Tobacco is involved in 90 percent of oral cancer cases, while 7 out of 10 people who develop oral cancer drink heavily. (Heavy drinking is defined by the CDC to be more than eight drinks per week for women and more than 15 for men.) When combined, tobacco use and alcohol create an even greater chance of causing oral cancer.
For diet, not getting enough fruits and vegetables increases your risk. Adding non-starchy fruits and vegetables such as berries and broccoli to a diet has been shown to reduce the chances of developing oral cancer.
Can HPV cause oral cancer? The human papilloma virus (HPV) is another leading cause of oral cancers, especially oropharyngeal cancers found in the back of the throat. The number of cancers linked to HPV is on the rise, but there’s a vaccine that’s effective against the most common strains that cause oral cancer. The vaccine is most effective when given to preteen and adolescent children.
When it comes to oral cancer, early detection can be a lifesaver. When found early, the survival rate can be as high as 90%.
Perform home screenings and ask your dentist about oral cancer screenings during regular checkups. Mouth symptoms to look for include sores, red or white patches, ongoing pain or numbness, lumps or rough spots, and issues chewing and swallowing.
By avoiding lifestyle risk factors, adjusting your daily habits and watching for symptoms, you can help protect your future from oral cancer. And if you do just one thing, quit tobacco (including smokeless tobacco). Free help is available at the SD QuitLine.