A few weeks ago, actor Michael Douglas caused quite a stir by claiming that the throat cancer that nearly took his life was caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which he contracted while performing oral sex on his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. And while Douglas’ statements provoked a lot of jokes, cancer specialists and many other medical professionals were cheering. (You can read our post on this here.)
According to the National Cancer Institute, in the 1980s, 17% of oropharyngeal (meaning “deep in the throat”) cancers were caused by HPV. Today, it’s 70%. The good news—at least for girls and young women—is that the HPV vaccine, which protects them against cervical cancer, will probably prevent oral-sex-related throat cancers as well.
Since both males and females engage in oral sex, one might reasonably ask why there hasn’t been as much of a push to have boys and young men vaccinated as there has been for females. It’s really rather absurd, and the only solution is for all of us—parents, children, medical professionals, and everyone else—to lobby our politicians to make sure Obamacare covers the HPV vaccine for males as well as females. Vaccinating only half the population still leaves the other half very vulnerable.