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updated: 6/3/2013 7:17 AM

Michael Douglas blames HPV for throat cancer

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  • The Guardian newspaper published an interview Monday in which Michael Douglas blamed HPV for his cancer that was diagnosed in 2010. The newspaper also quoted doctors who were skeptical about his claim.

      The Guardian newspaper published an interview Monday in which Michael Douglas blamed HPV for his cancer that was diagnosed in 2010. The newspaper also quoted doctors who were skeptical about his claim.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

LONDON -- Actor Michael Douglas says that his throat cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus he contracted from previous sexual contact he had with women.

The Guardian newspaper published an interview Monday in which Douglas blamed this for the grave malady that was diagnosed in 2010.

The 68-year-old Douglas has been free of cancer for more than two years after receiving extensive chemotherapy and has returned to acting.

Douglas has starred in many movies, including "Basic Instinct" and "Fatal Attraction." He is currently appearing in an acclaimed biopic about Liberace.

He told the newspaper his cancer had been caused by having contracted the human papillomavirus (HPV), which he said led to cancer.

"It's a sexually transmitted disease," Douglas said of the virus.

Dr. Michael Brady, who specializes in sexual health as medical director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, told The Associated Press that oral sex could have contributed to Douglas's cancer but that it was difficult to pinpoint a single cause.

He pointed out that Douglas had been a smoker and a drinker, two factors that he said are the most common causes of oral cancer.

"There are often a number of factors, genetic, environmental, viral, that could be playing a role," he said.

Brady said there are hundreds of different types of HPV virus and that in most cases it does not cause damage. The risk is so low, he said, that he does not believe people should worry or change their sexual practices.

Douglas is married to the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.

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