How often do we speak of oral cancer? Not much, right? But oral cancer is very common and there are medical reports of more than 1 million cases every year in India. Oral cancer is more common in men than women and can occur in any region of the mouth and throat like the lips, salivary glands, cheek lining, hard palate, soft palate, uvula, under your tongue, gums, tonsils, and tongue.
What are the potential risk factors of oral cancer?
Are you at a risk of oral cancer? Check out these factors to know your potential risk:
Tobacco: 60% of oral cancer diagnosis patients are smokers. Also, people who chew tobacco are likely to be having cancer of the gums, cheek and inner surface of the lips. If you are using e-cigarettes, it is definitely not helping you in any way. Smoking alternatives like vaporizers and e-cigarettes are equally harmful and have no proof of being healthy.
(Know the disadvantages of e-cigarettes)
Alcohol: If you are a drinker, you are six times at a more risk of developing oral cancer than non-drinkers.
Diet: Steer clear of sugary foods, oils, carbs, and dairy products as they cause inflammation in the body and increases the risk of oral cancer.
Age: Almost 86% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are above 50 years of age.
Tips to prevent oral cancer
Oral cancers are treatable even at later stages but it is important to prevent oral cancer with some self-care and healthy lifestyle choices.
Annual dental checkups are a must even if you have no cavities or any oral diseases. However, in between these dental visits, you must check every corner of your mouth once a month in front of the mirror. Open your mouth wide and check for any ulcers or white or red patches on the inside of your mouth. If any such abnormality lingers around for more than 3 weeks, time to get it medically checked.
Quit smoking and have alcohol in moderation
As already mentioned, smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco is a primary risk factor for oral cancer. Give up on smoking and reduce your risk of cancer by more than one-third.
Limit yourself to just one drink every day. Over-consumption of alcohol not just causes cancer, but other health problems too.
Eat anti-cancer foods
Eat foods rich in antioxidants and those that fight cancer like kale, broccoli, blueberries, sweet potatoes, turmeric, yogurt, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, mushrooms, and green tea. These foods are easily available in your local grocery store and reduce the risk of cancer.
Get HPV vaccination
HPV16, a type of human papillomavirus is associated with oropharyngeal cancer at the back of the mouth. It is a very common virus that you are unaware of but may be present in your mouth. But in some cases, these can turn cancerous. Get vaccinated for HPV before you become sexually active. But if you are not immunized, protect yourself by limiting your sexual partners to one and practice safe sex.
Regular dental checkups
Just like preventive health checkups, a dental health checkup should be part of your daily healthcare routine. Your dentist will be able to assess if there are any abnormalities inside your mouth.
Schedule appointments with your doctor for regular oral health screening.