Having a multifaceted etiology, oral cancer, one of the most common cancers, has two major determining factors which are tobacco use and alcohol consumption. It is a major cause of death in developing countries.(1)
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer appears as soreness in the mouth which does not heal or go away. It includes the cancer of lips, tongue, cheek, the floor of the mouth, soft and hard palate, sinuses, and pharynx. It can prove to be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Smoking, tobacco chewing, family history, excessive sun exposure, are the risk factors of oral cancer.
9 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Suffering From Oral Cancer
Considering the risk factors, oral cancer appears to be a preventable illness. Below are mentioned few tips which can help prevent its occurrence.
It is common to find grey-white ulcers in the mouth of those who chew tobacco or smoke tobacco. Longer you have used tobacco, more often you use it and greater you are in risk of developing head and neck cancer.(2) Also, those using smokeless tobacco (naswar, gutka, snus, snuff, and topical tobacco paste) are at a higher risk of oral cancer.(3) The early you quit tobacco consumption, whichever way you are addicted you (smoking or chewing), lesser you put yourself on the oral cancer risk.
Cut Down On Alcohol
Various studies confirm that heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer.(4) When you consume alcohol in high quantities, the buccal mucosa gets irritated and the odds of developing oral cancer increase over time. Also, when you smoke and drink together, you increase the risk of the disease affecting you.
Go for a Regular Dental Checkup
Get your mouth examined by the dentist regularly, as they are mostly the first people to notice the cancerous growth if any, in the mouth. If the dentist notices anything suspicious, he can refer you to a specialist for the follow-up. To prevent the risk visit your dentist at least once in a year.
Protect Lips Against Ultraviolet Rays
Lips are directly exposed to the ultraviolet radiation, and those who are exposed to the sun for long hours have more chances of developing lip cancer. Apply a protective lip balm with a sun protection factor. If having a history of sunburn, be extra protective with your lips.
Lower HPV Risk
Many people have HPV (human papillomavirus) in their mouth and are not aware of it. It is because it does not cause any issue most of the time. But, in some people, it can lead to a change which can cause cancer. HPV can be transmitted sexually, so you can protect yourself by practicing safe sex and limiting the number of partners.
Check Your Mouth Properly Once In A Month
Stand in front of the mirror, open your mouth wide and look for any unusual red or white patches. Check the floor and the roof and inside of the cheek and lips. If you find anything you are not sure about, visit the dentist.
Brush and Floss
Maintaining good oral hygiene is very important. You should brush your teeth at least twice in a day and floss once in a day. A study confirms a link between good oral hygiene and HPV infection.(5) This also lowers the chances of oral cancer.
Eat Lots Of Fruits And Veggies
Antioxidants and vitamins in fresh fruits and vegetables rev up the immune system and protect you from various diseases and reduce cancer risk.(6) Lack of nutrients can lead to changes in the mouth, making cancer more likely. At least 5 serving of fruits and vegetable in a day are very important.
To get the most from fruits and vegetables, it is very important to be a smart cook. Do not cook the food till all the cancer-fighting goodness is out of them. Enjoy some of them raw to get the benefit. Also, cooking oils can lead to the formation of cancer-causing substance at high heat. Instead of frying you can boil, bake, or steam your food. Some people are at the highest risk of developing oral cancer, they include those who already have suffered from it. They need to visit a dentist and a doctor more often to check to get the mouth checked for cancer.