HPV: Michael Douglas—and Male Health Advocates—Were Right

hpv causes oral cancer and boys need to be vaccinatedA 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.

Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, mrdad.com. You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.
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