7 Oral Cancer Risk Factors

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April is oral cancer awareness month, a cancer that is not often talked about, even though it has over 40,000 diagnoses on average per year! In fact, many people do not realize that their dentist screens for oral cancer during their cleaning appointment. As such, we thought we might cover the 7 biggest risk factors that can cause oral cancer, and how to avoid them, if possible.

7 oral cancer risk factors

  1. Gender: As it turns out, men are twice as likely to get oral cancer! The exact reason is not entirely sure, but it is has been suggested by the American Cancer Society that the predisposition men have towards smoking and alcohol consumption may be factors. That being said, the rate is still higher among younger men as well.
  2. Age: The vast majority of oral cancer diagnoses occur for patients who are 55 or older.
  3. Tobacco: As previously mentioned, tobacco can greatly increase your risk of cancer, not only in the mouth but in other parts of the body as well. Pipe smokers are more prone to cancer of the lips, while chewing tobacco can lead to issues in the cheeks and gums as well as the lips.
  4. Alcohol: We mentioned this risk factor earlier as well. 7 out of 10 oral cancer diagnoses are for people who are heavy drinkers. According to the CDC, a heavy drinker is one who drinks either more than 2 drinks a day on average for men or more than 1 for women.

7 oral cancer risk factors II

  1. HPV: HPV is associated with approximately 9,000 yearly cases of head and neck cancer, specifically around the neck or tonsils. HPV typically targets those who are younger, and nonsmokers.
  2. Sunlight: Working in a medium with direct exposure to sunlight increases the likelihood of the development of lip cancer. UV protection and oral cancer screenings are recommended.
  3. Diet: Nutrition invariably affects many bodily processes. Cancer is no exception. Diets low in fruits and vegetables can increase the likelihood of the development of oral cancer.  So eat a variety!

Some of the aforementioned risk factors are entirely in a person’s control, but some are not. In the case of cancer, it is better to be safe and sure. Read more on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/index.html and ask our dentists about getting an oral cancer screening today! Call 404-261-6794.

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