Michael Douglas at the Cannes Film Festival in May (Getty Images)
Discussing his 2010 diagnosis in a new interview with U.K.'s The Guardian, the 68-year-old was asked if he regrets his years of smoking and drinking, as those activities can increase cancer risk.
"No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papilloma virus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus," replied Douglas, who has been married to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones since 2000.
He continued:"I did worry if the stress caused by my son [Cameron]'s incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer. And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it."
Soon after his quotes went viral, Douglas's rep clarified to "omg! Insider" that the star did not say that oral sex was the cause of his cancer. "In a discussion of oral cancer, he said this was one of the suspected causes but never made it personal," said the spokesperson.
However, the star of “Behind the Candelabra” has statistics in his favor. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6,700 American men are diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer tied to HPV each year. Though it was also noted that, "Other factors, notably tobacco and alcohol use, may also play a role with HPV to cause these cancers."
While his comments caused a big fuss on Sunday, it wasn't the first time Douglas has discussed HPV in relation to his throat cancer. Soon after his 2010 diagnosis, he spoke about the HPV connection in an interview with People magazine ... though he just didn't use the term cunnilingus or credit oral sex as "the best cure" for cancer, both of which are certainly headline grabbers.
And grab headlines he did. Comedian Michael Ian Black was one of the many people weighing in on Douglas's quotes — using his trademark sense of humor. "Somehow, this was the week throat cancer almost became sexy," he tweeted on Monday.
Bravo's Andy Cohen also addressed the topic, writing, "Wait — does the Michael Douglas news mean gay guys can't get Cancer?? #MedicalTalk." Though later he added, "I'm just playing around — no need to send me medical info on this!"
All jokes aside, Douglas has been free of cancer for more than two years after completing very aggressive chemotherapy following his Stage IV diagnosis. He noted that he is religious about getting checkups every six months "and with this kind of cancer, 95% of the time it doesn't come back."
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