Oral cancer like other cancers, does not discriminate and can affect anyone. There are however lifestyle choices that may increase the risk of Oral Cancer. Oral cancer can be extremely invasive and debilitating and early detection is vital to obtaining appropriate care as soon as possible, should it occur.
Oral cancer includes any cancer that occurs within the mouth or surrounding tissues, and may present on or under the tongue, on the lips, the inside of the cheek, the gums, on the roof or floor of the mouth, in the tonsils or salivary glands.
The following are known to increase the risk of oral cancer:
Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking is the most prevalent cause of oral cancer, along with heavy alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use is when more than 4 standard drinks are consumed on a single occasion. According to Oral Cancer Facts by the Australian Dental Association, the risk of developing oral cancer is 15 times greater when you both smoke and drink as they act together to increase the risk. The dehydrating effect of alcohol on the cell walls in your mouth helps the tobacco carcinogens to permeate the mouth tissues. In addition the nutritional deficiencies associated with heavy drinking can lower the body’s natural ability to use antioxidants to prevent the formation of cancers.
Sexually Transmitted Virus – HPV-16
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV-16) has been linked to oral cancer. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that those infected with HPV were 32 times more likely to develop oral or throat cancers. This is a very strong link especially when compared with smoking, a well known cause, which increases the chances of developing oral cancer by 3 times and alcohol consumption which increases a persons risk of developing oral cancer by 2.5 times. (www.mouthcancerfoundation.org)
Sun exposure to any part of your body including lips for an extended period of time can increase your risk of skin cancer. It is important when applying sun screen to your face not to forget your lips. Use SPF lip balm and SPF sun screen to protect against sun exposure and risk of skin cancer which has a high risk of spreading.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
There are many varied symptoms of oral cancer and being on the lookout for anything new and unusual is important, especially if you notice any of the following:
How you can reduce your risk of Oral Cancer