How did Michael Doughlas get tongue cancer

He used to be one of the bad guys in Hollywood. Alcohol, drugs, sex - Michael Douglas left nothing out. Today the movie star has come to rest. His new roles are those of the loyal family father and occasionally that of the gentleman on screen.

He played the latter again at the Cannes Film Festival last weekend. Michael Douglas was there to present his new film "Behind the Candelabra". With the portrait film about the extravagant pianist and entertainer Liberace, Douglas celebrates his personal comeback on the screen after a serious illness.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian Douglas is now talking about his cancer for the first time. According to the newspaper, he said oral sex was the cause of his cancer. "This particular type of cancer that I have is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). And I caught it while doing cunnilingus," said the 68-year-old.

Three years ago Douglas announced on a US talk show that he had larynx cancer. Stage four of five, advanced cancer. The diagnosis was followed by several months of chemotherapy and radiation, which made the tumor disappear completely. But can oral sex actually cause cancer?

Yes. Douglas wouldn't be the only one. The HP viruses are widespread in the population, around 25 percent of women under 30 have the virus. There are no precise statistics on the infection rate in men. However, most people do not notice any symptoms and the infection heals within a few months. Only in a very few cases does HPV infection lead to cancer.

"In fact, 30 to 40 percent of all laryngeal cancer diseases worldwide are caused by HPV," says Lutz Gissmann from the German Cancer Research Center Süddeutsche.de. HP viruses can be transmitted through sexual or oral intercourse, they infect the mucous membranes and, depending on the type, can cause tumors. For example, HP viruses are the cause of cervical cancer in many women. In men, they are more likely to cause cancer of the larynx, just like Michael Douglas had.

However, if you look at Mr. Douglas' vita, the idea arises that his cancer could also result from excessive tobacco or alcohol consumption, which can also trigger cancer. In 1992 he went to a clinic to cure his drug and alcohol addiction.

Regarding such assumptions, Gissmann says: "You can examine the larynx tumors very carefully for the HP virus and determine whether the disease is caused by a sexual infection or excessive tobacco consumption. Overall, smoke-related cancers have declined in recent years, cancer from HPV infections, on the other hand, have increased. " Research of the Guardian According to it, however, it is like this: Even if cigarette consumption does not necessarily have to be the trigger for throat cancer, the HP viruses remain active in the body of smokers for longer than those of non-smokers.

The interview of the Guardian with Douglas has not only been a topic of conversation in Hollywood and Cannes. Users are also discussing how and whether oral sex can cause cancer on social networks. The alleged statement by Douglas, according to which oral sex is also the best therapy for throat cancer at the same time, causes particular excitement - a blessing and a curse at the same time. "That's not true," says Gissmann. "A cure for cancer with papilloma viruses does not work. Overall, however, HPV-related cancers have a good cure prognosis."

Michael Douglas also has a good prognosis. "Thank God I have been cancer-free for two years. And this type of cancer does not return in 95 percent of all cases," he says in an interview. He won the tough battle against cancer, together with his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and their two children. And you could see that in him. In Cannes he impressed the press and colleagues as always with his sex appeal and charm.

He himself looks back with awe and pride on the difficult time of the illness: "It was a tough couple of years. But after the break with cancer, I am back even stronger. I am grateful and happy that I am still alive and continuing my career can. "

Shortly after the public excitement surrounding the Guardian interview, Michael Douglas's statement that he had been infected with the HP virus during oral sex was denied by a spokesman. You can read the exact reason here.

© Süddeutsche.de / beu / bavo