How to decrease the risk of oral cancer
While no cancer is 100% preventable, there are a number of precautionary measures you can take to lower your personal risk of oral cancer.
Eliminate tobacco consumption
It’s no secret that smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to cancer. Approximately 75% of all oral cancer patients over the age of 50 are tobacco users.
Habitual smokers require up to 20 years post-quitting to return to non-smoker risk levels. The good news is that every year that passes lowers your risk substantially. As a bonus, staying away from tobacco also lowers your risk for lung, bladder, esophageal and pancreatic cancers plus heart disease and emphysema.
Limit alcohol intake
According to the American Cancer Society, regularly consuming more than 2 drinks per day for men, or 1 for women, will increase your odds of contracting cancer. Binge drinking is also discouraged.
Smoking and drinking in conjunction raises your risk factor for developing oral cancer to a whopping 15 times those who consume neither.
Protect your lips
Excessive sun on your lips and mouth can cause damage and lead to oral cancer. Minimizing your time in the sun, wearing a hat or applying a lip-specific sunscreen can all help.
Maintain proper mouth hygiene
Brush and floss daily to remove bacteria.
Eat plenty of fruits and veggies
The nutrients and antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables may help decrease your risk of mouth cancer. Include the following foods in your diet as much as possible:
- Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage/broccoli)
- Dark Leafy Greens
Combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise can boost your immune system to be better prepared to fight off cancer.
It’s important to see your dentist regularly for checkups. Cancer survival rates increase dramatically with early detection.
Please note that 1 in 4 patients diagnosed with oral cancer are in the low-risk category. Periodic screenings are vital for everyone.