Michael Douglas’s HPV Connection

shutterstock_140820082It has been fascinating to watch the media try to deal with Michael Douglas once again admitting that his throat cancer was caused by the HPV virus. When he was first diagnosed, I read his admission in People magazine where it was “glossed” over as a virus he contracted without explaining that HPV is a sexually transmitted virus.  I shared this in a few “adults only” contexts when we were discussing the reality that Hollywood seems to glorify sex without ever showing its consequences.  But it seems that even when Hollywood stars admit that there are consequences the media just cannot handle reporting it.  There was so much news about Angelina Jolie’s surgery to prevent future cancer she was genetically at risk for contracting, and yet when Michael Douglas brings awareness to HPV related throat cancer, the Huffington Post has to deny that he even knows for sure if his throat cancer was really caused by HPV!

The 2013 “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer” found about 13,000 new cases of oropharyngeal in both men and women linked to HPV in 2009 (the last year of available data), more than 10,500 of which were in men. More than 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV, according to the National Cancer Institute, which was an author in the report.

“This is not a surprise by any stretch,” Dr. Eric Genden, professor and chair of otolaryngology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, told CBSNews.com. “There’s an epidemic of HPV-related throat cancers.”

Why is it that we seem so quick to issue warnings about diet and cholesterol and the health risks associated with smoking and drinking, but absolutely refuse to suggest that changing behavior when it comes to sex is even possible?  Don’t you think this generation deserves to know that even though Hollywood and TV networks are going to constantly show the hook-up, casual sex culture and never show any consequences: that this behavior comes with risk?



Pam Stenzel, M.A. is the Director of Enlighten Communications and the author of Nobody Told Me and Who's In Your Social Network? For more information please visit pamstenzel.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage