November is just around the corner – and it also happens to be Mouth Cancer Action Month, organised by the Oral Health Foundation. Here at Honour Health, our dentists always check carefully for signs of mouth cancer every time they see a patient. That’s one of the reasons it is so important to visit your dentist regularly.
Did you know that up to 90% of all mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors? With a few small changes, you can help reduce your chances of developing mouth cancer. It is important to know the risk factors, such as:
Smoking tobacco increases your risk of developing mouth cancer by up to ten times, compared with those who do not smoke. Around two in every three (60%) of mouth cancers are linked to smoking. By giving up smoking, you will help to lessen your risk.
Drinking alcohol to excess increases your risk of mouth cancer. Alcohol is linked to just under a third (30%) of all mouth cancers. UK guidelines recommend a maximum of 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women. If you are unsure about units, there is a handy guide from the NHS here
If you would like to cut down, start by trying to have several alcohol-free days every week.
Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body. HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research suggests that it could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer. Practicing safe sex and limiting the number of partners you have may help reduce your chances of contracting HPV.
Around a third of mouth cancers are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet and a lack of vitamins and minerals.
By eating a healthy, balanced diet including lots of fruit and vegetables each day, you can help to reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer.
Increasing evidence also suggests that Omega 3, found in foods such as eggs and fish, can help lower your risk, as well as foods which are high in fibre such as nuts, seeds, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice.
If you are due to visit us for your next dental health assessment, book an appointment at our Jesmond, Ponteland or Stanley practices – and if you have any questions or concerns at all, then we are always here to help.
Find out more about Mouth Cancer Action Month here