Risks of Oral Cancer

Article excerpt

EVERY day, at least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer.

Survival rates for oral cancer remain low despite advances in treatment, and this can be attributed to late detection.

Recognising the risk factors and signs of oral cancer is vital to better prognosis and outcomes.

During Dental Health Week, August1-7, the Australian Dental Association will be raising awareness about oral cancer, the risk factors that contribute to it and lifestyle changes that can help reduce a person's risk of getting oral cancer.

Oral cancer is one of the least understood conditions among the general public and yet three of the main risk factors involved in its development are common to most of Australia's adult population.

One of the most alarming facts about oral cancer is that it can affect anyone. While there are certain lifestyle choices that definitely increase the chance of developing it, there are a number of other causes that we have less control over.

The three main risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol use, sexually transmitted virus and sun exposure.

Prolonged tobacco use in all its forms, smoking, chewing, smokeless tobaccos, betel nut and bedis, is still the most prevalent cause of oral cancer.

Heavy alcohol use, defined as more than four standard drinks on a single occasion, is also high on the list of risk factors. When used together your risk is significantly increased, as the two act synergistically.

Those who both smoke and drink have a 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer than others.

The effect that alcohol has on the soft tissues of the mouth may be the key to understanding how it combines with tobacco to increase the risk of developing cancer.

The dehydrating effect of alcohol on cell walls enhances the ability of tobacco carcinogens to permeate mouth tissues. Additionally, nutritional deficiencies associated with heavy drinking can lower the body's natural ability to use antioxidants to prevent the formation of cancers. …

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