We all know that regular dental checkups are important for our teeth and gums. But did you know that your dentist also evaluates you for the potential for or presence of oral and throat cancer? Screening for oral cancer is painless and takes a minimal amount of time, but can detect abnormalities that you might not be able to see with the naked eye!
There are 7 risk factors that top the list for oral cancer, some of which are controllable!
- Smoking: While we tend to associate smoking with lung cancer, smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the leading causes of all forms of oral cancer. Pipe smokers have a greatly increased risk for cancer of the lip, and although the chewing of tobacco has a lesser chance of causing lung cancer, has a higher risk of producing cancer of the cheeks, lips and gums. And while many are turning to electronic cigarettes, they are too new to evaluate for long-term effects, but there is data to support that they do present dangers to the user’s health. We can’t even begin to emphasize the importance of being a non-smoker, and with so many support tools out there, while no one says “kicking the habit” is easy, it can be done!
- Drinking: Studies show that 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers, thereby suggesting that this is a strong risk factor. The Center for Disease Control defines heavy drinking as two drinks daily for men, one drink daily for women. Imagine the threat if you drink AND smoke?
- Diet: Studies show that those who do not include fruits and vegetables as a consistent part of their nutritional intake have a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Your mom knew what she was talking about – those fruits and veggies are good for your digestion, vitamin balance, and cancer protection and, hey, they really do taste good! So add more to your daily diet.
- Sunlight: Those who work outside regularly have a higher risk of developing lip cancer, so be sure to use strong UV protection and keep those smackers safe!
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus): This sexually transmitted disease is now associated with about 10,000 cases of oral and throat cancers each year in the United States.
And the final two risks are completely out of your control:
- Gender: Studies show that men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. Also, men tend to visit their dentist less regularly than women. Come on, guys, it’s really not all that bad!
- Age: Most cases of oral cancers are detected in patients over the age of 44, with the median age of 62. It should be noted, however, that with the rise of cancers associated with HPV, there has been an increase in younger men at risk.
We at TUNG Brush and Gel care deeply about our customers and their families, and we never mean to scare you, just keep you informed so you can enjoy happy and healthy lives for many years to come.