Michael Douglas' rep says the actor did not say in an interview with the Guardian newspaper that his cancer was caused by cunnilingus.
In a story headlined, "Michael Douglas: Oral Sex Caused My Cancer," the "Behind the Candelabra" star appeared to say that he blamed HPV, which is transmittable through oral sex, for his cancer diagnosis. But Douglas' rep, Allen Burry, told TheWrap that in fact Douglas was saying his type of cancer can be spread through oral sex with a person infected with HPV -- without saying that that was the specific cause of Douglas' cancer.
"He did not say cunninlingus was the cause of his cancer," Burry said. "He didn't specifically name a cause."
Many news outlets, including TheWrap, followed up on the Guardian report. TheWrap attributed the quotes to The Guardian throughout.
Douglas' discussion of oral sex and cancer came when the newspaper asked if he regretted smoking and drinking, suggesting that they may have been factors.
"No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus," Douglas said.
Burry did not respond to a request for comment Sunday, when TheWrap posted its story, but did discuss the article on Monday. Burry said he was not seeking a correction from the Guardian or other news outlets.
The Guardian story -- and what appeared to be a surprisingly frank admission -- increased awareness of the link between HPV, oral sex and cancer. HPV was long known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer, but recent evidence indicates an increase in anal and oral cancers as well because of the virus.
The 68-year-old actor, who says he is now free of cancer, earned raves for his portrayal of Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra," which premiered on HBO last month.
- Michael Douglas