Avoiding tobacco and alcohol are the best ways to reduce your oral cancer risk. Other steps include lifestyle and dietary changes, regular dental check-ups, and vaccination against HPV.
Oral cancer develops in your mouth or throat and makes up about
Socioeconomics, genetics, age, and gender
Here are six to know.
By some estimates, smokers have a 5–10 times higher chance of dying from oral cancer than people who never smoked. The more tobacco you use, the greater your risk.
That’s because chemicals in tobacco and tobacco products are carcinogenic, which means they are known to cause cancer. When you use tobacco, the tissues in your mouth and throat are exposed to the carcinogens. They can cause cancer to form and then spread to other parts of your body.
Deciding to quit or not to use tobacco can lower your chance of several types of cancer — not just oral cancer.
While alcohol doesn’t contain carcinogens that can directly cause oral cancer, it can affect the lining of your mouth, making you more prone to the effects of carcinogens.
According to the
Another way to protect yourself is to have regular dental checkups.
Regular checkups can also help you treat oral cancer sooner. At your visit, your dentist may be able to spot early red flags of oral cancer. Pre-cancerous growths may appear as gray or white patches that won’t come off when scraped (leukoplakia) or raised red areas that bleed easily when scraped (erythroplakia).
Doctors can remove and biopsy both types to see if you have oral cancer. Screening and early treatment usually lead to better outcomes.
Early signs of oral cancer
Knowing the early signs of oral cancer can help you spot and treat it sooner, leading to better outcomes. Early symptoms
- pain or bleeding in your mouth
- white or red patches in your mouth
- patches, sores, or lumps in your throat
- pain in your ear
- a sore throat that won’t go away
- a lump in your neck
- jaw swelling
- numbness in your mouth or tongue
- problems chewing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted disease that can be spread to your mouth and throat through oral sex.
That’s why many health organizations recommend
Sunlight can also increase your risk for oral cancer, especially
To protect your lips and skin from UV radiation, consider the following:
Researchers believe what you eat regularly can help or hurt your chances of developing oral cancer.
The review authors also found that a diet rich in these foods has the potential to reduce your risk:
- green tea
- foods containing vitamin C
- red fruits such as grapes
- foods high in folate
They also found that a pro-inflammatory diet can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. A pro-inflammatory diet contains a lot of:
- red meats
- fried foods
- sugary foods and drinks that raise your blood sugar quickly
Some risk factors for oral cancer are out of your control, but there are ways to prevent or reduce your risk. The most important step is avoiding tobacco and alcohol, as those are the most significant risk factors.
Other steps include vaccinating against HPV, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and protecting yourself from the sun. Taking care of your dental health and getting regular dental checkups can also protect you and help detect signs of oral cancer early.