Oral cancer prevention – It’s in your hands!

25 Jan, 2022

Hard as it may be to believe, oral cancer is more common than leukemia and is known to kill as many women as cervical cancer does. Oral cancer might not cross your mind all that often, but it is real. And, no, just because you are young or don’t smoke, does not mean you are not at risk. Oral cancer is on the rise across the world and it makes a lot of sense to look at prevention. Here are a few things you could do to keep this potentially life threatening condition at bay.

Floss regularly

It’s good that you brush twice a day, but when it comes to dental and oral hygiene, this might not be enough. Particles that get deeply lodged in between teeth may need flossing to be cleared. The combination of brushing and flossing may also shield you against the risk of contracting oral cancer through the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). According to a research study that appeared in the Cancer Prevention Research Journal, HPV is the cause of anywhere between 40% and 80% of oropharyngeal cancers.

Conduct self-exams

Once a month, pick up a flashlight that’s bright enough and head to the nearest mirror. For spots that are not easily accessible or seen, use a mouth mirror. Self-exams might not be as precise as professionally conducted examinations, but they can often spot early indicators, if any. Watch out for tender areas, bumps, lumps and red and white spots. If you notice anything suspicious, talk to your dentist immediately.

Reduce smoking and alcohol use

Do you smoke? If yes, then you fall among those people who face a higher risk of contracting oral cancer. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), smoking tobacco causes 70% of all oral and pharyngeal cancers in men in the UK. For women, the figure stands at about 55%. Alcohol is the other thing that you should cut down on or better still, give up. Research has found out that alcoholic beverages contain a variety of carcinogens such as nitrosamines, phenols, asbestos fibres and hydrocarbons.

There are many other changes you can incorporate into your lifestyle to ward off oral cancer. Eat foods that research has shown fight cancer effectively. Berries, beans, leafy vegetables, flaxseed and garlic are usually recommended. That apart, how you prepare your food is as important as what you eat. Resort to baking and steaming more than frying and grilling. Oral cancer, like most other cancers, can strike anyone. However, you can always do your bit to reduce the risk.

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