Michael Douglas Makes Surprising Cancer Claim

Michael Douglas Makes Surprising Cancer Claim

Michael Douglas says it wasn't smoking or drinking that caused his throat cancer, but could have been caused by sex.

"Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from [oral sex]," the actor was quoted as saying to the Guardian newspaper.

“Sex Gave Me Cancer,” blared the front page of the New York Post.

On the Today show on Monday, co-host Savannah Guthrie said, "I think he's raising awareness this morning, but there is a concept, TMI. Too much information."

68-year-old Douglas had previously blamed his stage four cancer on years of heavy partying.

He told David Letterman, "This particular cancer is caused by alcohol."

ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said that there is an association between certain types of throat cancer and HPV, which is most well known as the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.

Dr. Besser said, "Certain viruses are transmitted sexually. So, this virus can be transmitted sexually and cause cervical cancer in women, but, by oral sex, it can infect the throat and cause throat cancer."

After Douglas’ quotes got worldwide attention, his spokesman issued a statement denying that the star of Behind the Candelabra ever made a direct link between his cancer and oral sex.  

A rep for Douglas said, "It was discussed that oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers, but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer."

Douglas' surprisingly statement is earning him praise, although some are wondering whether his wife of 13 years, Catherine Zeta-Jones, was caught off guard.

Dr. Besser said, "It's very difficult for anyone to talk about sex, and anything related to sex. So, for him to come forward and say this, it is going to save a lot of lives."

Douglas has been cancer free for two years. Whatever the cause of his disease, he was was the picture of health on the popular BBC talk show, The Graham Norton Show, where he danced around as his on-screen alter ego, Liberace.