Did you know that an estimated 53,000 people will have oral cancer in 2019? Unfortunately, nearly 11,000 people are estimated to die as a result. That’s why it is so important to know the common risk factors for this highly treatable illness! Here are five common risk factors for oral cancer that you should be aware of.
1. Tobacco Usage
There is a direct correlation between the one’s tobacco usage and their risk for oral cancer. In fact, studies have shown that 90% of people with oral cancer use tobacco products—including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco. Smokers are even six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers. Therefore, the best way to prevent oral cancer entirely is to avoid tobacco products completely.
2. Alcohol Consumption
Another significant risk factor for oral cancer is heavy drinking. Around 82-94% of those who are diagnosed with oral cancer drink alcohol. Beer and hard liquor are said to have a higher associated risk of oral cancer, though wine is also linked to oral cancer as well. Like tobacco usage, the amount you drink is significant—the more alcohol you consume on a regular basis, the higher your risk for oral cancer. For this reason, it is important not to drink in excess.
3. Sun Exposure
If you have an outdoor occupation, you may be at greater risk for getting oral cancer as a result of exposure to ultraviolet light. In fact, studies have shown that over 30% of patients that have cancers of the lip have a job that keeps them outdoors. To protect yourself from sunlight-induced cancers, be sure to wear sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and lip protection.
4. Poor Nutrition
Studies have shown that vitamin deficiencies have been linked to oral cancer as well. In particular, those who have a diet low in fruits and vegetables are at greater risk. Patients whose diets contain low levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotenes are particularly at risk for oral cancer. Therefore, be sure to eat your recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables each day!
Unfortunately, your risk for developing oral cancer can increase with age. Studies have shown that half of all oral cancer cases have been found in those over the age of 65. Even more significantly, it has been found that 90% of oral cancer patients are over the age of 45. That said, oral cancer is very curable if detected early, which is why it is even more important to visit the dentist every six months as you age.
Visiting your dentist every six months is critical for the prevention, detection, and treatment of oral cancer. To schedule your next appointment, call Fairview Dental Group in Westmont today!