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Rep: Michael Douglas didn’t blame sex for cancer

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David Azia / AP

Actor Michael Douglas poses for photographers as he arrives for the screening of Behind the Candelabra at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, in this May 21, 2013 file photo.

Updated Monday, June 3, 2013 | 10:13 a.m.

A representative for actor Michael Douglas now says the actor doesn't blame his throat cancer on oral sex.

The Guardian newspaper published an interview Monday saying that Douglas attributed his illness to the HPV virus from oral sex. When asked about his cancer, Douglas said "without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), which actually comes from cunnilingus."

But spokesman Allen Burry said later that Douglas never said that was the cause of his cancer. He said Douglas was discussing what causes oral cancer during the interview.

Health officials say smoking and alcohol are the main causes of oral cancer. The human papillomavirus, however, has been linked to one kind of throat cancer.

HPV is best known for causing cervical cancer. But experts say it also is a growing cause of certain types of oral cancer, those in the upper throat. In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimates there will be nearly 14,000 new cases of upper throat cancer this year. The government says recent studies suggest almost two-thirds of those are caused by HPV.

Researchers say women sometimes get oral cancer caused by HPV, but the risk is greatest and rising among men.