Alcohol And Tobacco Cause Oral Cancer

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Cancer is one of the scariest words in the English language and oral cancer is one of the least understood and discussed. Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are falling victim to this disease, a fact that is linked to heavy use of alcohol and tobacco.

Important Oral Cancer Statistics

Oral cancer is often one of the deadliest types of cancers in the world. The problem is often a result of the fact that it is hard to diagnose. Often, it is an invisible cancer and one that is only obvious when it metastasizes to another part of the body, such as to the brain or the lymph nodes of the neck.

As a result, oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other cancers, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicle cancer, thyroid cancer, and cervical cancer. The following statistics indicate just how widespread this problem is in America:

  • Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
  • Almost 10,000 people die from it: that’s one person every hour, 24 hours a day
  • Only 57% of those diagnosed lived longer than five years
  • Oral cancer comprises 85% of all head and neck cancers
  • A person who successful beats oral cancer is 20 times likelier to develop another cancer
  • Over $3.2 billion is spent every year treating oral cancer

Clearly, oral cancer is an unknown danger plaguing the health of the nation. And it is exasperated by the use of alcohol and tobacco, to the point where it’s imperative that any smoker or drinker curtail their habit or quit entirely.

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Alcohol Is Linked To Oral Cancer

Heavy drinkers probably never think about oral cancer, but their habit actually increases their chance of oral cancer. Part of this is increased risk is due to tobacco use: alcohol dehydrates the walls of your mouth, causing them to be more susceptible to tobacco carcinogens. As a result, pairing the two habits increases your risk even further.

But even if you don’t smoke, alcohol consumption can still contribute to oral cancer. For example, oral surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that people who develop cirrhosis due to alcohol use often suffer from an increase in oral tissues. These tissues often begin growing uncontrollably, leading to an increased cancer risk.

How much does drinking increase your oral cancer risk? Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption (up to five drinks a day) could increase your risk of mouth cancer 30 times. And around a third of all cancers in the mouth and throat are due to alcohol use. Remember that this applies to excessive alcohol abuse: a person who has one drink every night or two is likely safe.

Tobacco Is A Huge Influence On Oral Cancer

Not surprisingly, tobacco use is linked to increased risks of oral cancer. For example, the U.S. Public Health Service reported various statistics that show just how much tobacco use increases your oral cancer risk. The level of this increase varies based on gender and age. For example, they found that:

  • Male cigarette smokers have an increased risk of 27.7 times
  • 80% of all oral cancer deaths were attributable to smoking
  • 3-5 years of smoking abstinence decreases risk by up to 50%
  • People who use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chew) increase their risk by up to 14 times

That’s right: even smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer. In fact, it may be even more harmful than smoking. After all, you’re placing the tobacco directly against your oral tissues. As a result, they are absorbing incredibly high amounts of carcinogens.

And while oral cancer risk only goes up if you pair excessive tobacco use with alcohol use, tobacco is more dangerous than alcohol: even smoking two to three cigarettes a day increases your oral cancer risk.

Avoiding This Danger

If you’re concerned oral cancer, quit using tobacco and alcohol. This can help you minimize your risk and also improve your overall health. You should also get checked for oral cancer. Other ways you can lower your risk of oral cancer include:

  • Eating healthier
  • Brushing daily
  • Exercising (to promote your immune system)

These simple techniques may not completely remove your risk of oral cancer. However, by combining them with a life free of alcohol and tobacco, you have greatly decreased your chances of developing oral cancer. In fact, quitting these habits for 10 years may completely negate any oral cancer risk they caused.

Asking For Help

 We can help. Contact us today!For many people, quitting alcohol and smoking will come relatively easily. Unfortunately, many more people will struggle to break the addictive bond of alcohol. We can help. At, we have access to a wide range of addiction experts that can help get you on the right track to permanent sobriety.

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