Michael Douglas’ comments concerning his cancer – and a possible connection to oral sex — have caused a media firestorm.
While reps for the star claim the actor never said oral sex was the cause of his own cancer, the reporter who conducted the interview, Associate Editor Xan Brooks of Britain’s The Guardian, told Access Hollywood Live’s Billy Bush and Kit Hoover that during his interview with Douglas, he believed the actor was indeed referring to his own health scare.
“The impression I had is that he was talking specifically about his own cancer. He was responding to a question of mine about his lifestyle and the question was, did he feel he’d overloaded his system with too much drinking, too much smoking back in his earlier years,” Brooks said on Tuesday’s Access Hollywood Live. “And [Douglas’] answer was that, no, because his particular cancer, this particular cancer was caused by the HPV virus.”
In an audio clip of Brooks’ interview with Douglas, the reporter is heard asking the 68-year-old actor, “Do you feel, in hindsight, that you overloaded your system? Overloaded your system with drugs, smoking, drink?”
“No. No. Ah, without getting too specific, this particular cancer is caused by something called HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.” Douglas responded during the original interview.
Following the release of Brooks’ interview with Douglas, the actor’s rep released a statement stating that Douglas did not say oral sex was the cause of the actor’s cancer, just one of the many possible causes of oral cancer.
“In a discussion with the newspaper, they talked about the causes of oral cancer, one of which was oral sex, which is noted and has been known for a while now,” Douglas’ rep said on Monday.
However, Brooks felt differently about the actor’s remarks.
“I very much took it to mean he was talking about himself and his own ailments,” he told Billy and Kit. “My impression is that he was talking specifically about his own cancer.”
On Monday night, Douglas addressed the controversy surrounding the interview when he was honored at the American Cancer Society’s 100th birthday celebration, where he was given the Inaugural Marvin Hamlisch Award in New York City.
“I never expected to become a poster boy for head and neck cancer, but, if after what started out as trying to answer a couple of questions about the suspected sources of this disease results in opening up discussion and furthering public awareness then I’ll stand by that. Head and neck cancer can be caused by many things including HPV virus, smoking, alcohol, drug abuse, genes, environment and stress. I do not know what caused my cancer. If I did I’d have a Nobel Prize,” the actor said on Monday. “I do know that I am here today because of incredible advances in cancer research and treatment. Early awareness is a key factor. If this episode contributes to public awareness all the better.”
Despite the controversy surrounding the actor’s comments, Brooks believes Douglas’ comments will help others.
“I think he’s done a very brave, a very courageous and very candid thing here. He’s brought this disease out into the daylight. Being so open and frank with me, he’s done a great public service,” he said on Access Hollywood Live.
Adding, “Michael Douglas knew exactly what he was doing when he brought it up… he knew what he was saying. I think he felt a kind of responsibility to put it on the table.”