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Michael Douglas confesses: “Oral sex gave me throat cancer”

by , 05 June 2013

It's been all the newspapers could write about this week: Did Michael Douglas blame oral sex for his throat cancer or not? While the jury's still out on this one, today FSP Health investigates this claim: Can oral sex really give you throat cancer?

In an eye-poppingly candid interview with the Guardian on Sunday night, actor Michael Douglas, said his cancer was caused by the HPV STD, which is transmitted through oral sex, and not caused by tobacco and alcohol, reports the Times’ health page

But how likely is that?

Shocking fact: Oral sex can give you throat cancer!

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts as well as genital cancers of the anus or penis in men, explains webMD.

But what’s really unusual about this is that, until Douglas’s confession, very few people knew that having oral sex with someone with HPV can result in cancer of the throat, tonsils and base of tongue too.

Frightening when you consider that, “according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60% of oropharyngeal cancers — cancers of the throat, tonsils and the base of tongue — are related to HPV,” reports the Times.

So it’s no surprise that Dr Eric Genden, professor and chair of otolaryngology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City told CBSNews.com that ‘there's an epidemic of HPV-related throat cancers”

Have safe oral sex to avoid STDs like HPV and HIV…

Douglas’s story should serve as a reminder that safe sex practices apply to oral sex too.

For maximum protection, never have sex (regardless of whether it’s oral or penetrative) without a condom.

Also consider the following Health24 tips for safe oral sex…

  • Don’t perform oral sex if you have “bleeding gums, sores, abscessed teeth or have just gone to the dentist. These could make it easier for HIV and STIs to enter the body. Wait until they heal”.
  • The same goes for brushing of flossing your teeth right before or after oral sex – this is because “brushing your teeth may cause small tears or bleeding in your gums,” explains yoursexualhealth.ie.
  • And avoid deep throating. “This may irritate the lining of the throat, making it easier for HIV and STIs to enter the body,” writes Health24.

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