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05 March 2024

Guarding Against Oral Cancer: Strategies for Prevention and the Importance of Awareness

Although oral cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, it can also be difficult to notice as the symptoms are vague. If not detected at an early stage, prognoses can easily become more serious. 

This is why the prevention of oral cancer is arguably the best tool at your disposal. We will examine several crucial topics throughout the remainder of this article. 

What are some habits to avoid? How can lifestyle changes have a profound impact upon your chances of being diagnosed with this form of cancer? How does diet play a role? Developing an acute awareness of oral cancer and the risks will provide you with a much-needed edge at any age. 


Tobacco has already been linked to a plethora of potentially serious health effects. Many online articles cite long-term impacts such as heart disease, high blood pressure, lung cancer, and stroke. 

However, we need to remember that the risk of developing oral cancer is up to ten times higher for those who smoke cigarettes (or use other forms of tobacco) on a regular basis. 

This primarily arises from the number of cancer-causing chemicals known as carcinogens that are often present within tobacco products. As you might have imagined, heavy smokers are placing their health in jeopardy on a daily basis. There has never been a more sensible reason to kick this nasty habit!

Abstain from Alcohol

Another lesser-known cause of oral cancer involves the regular consumption of alcohol. The problem here is that alcohol is a rather harsh chemical and it can cause damage to the soft tissues within your mouth. Over time, this may result in abnormal cellular mutations, one of the leading causes of oral cancer. 

To put these observations into perspective, here are some recent findings provided by the National Cancer Institute:

  • Those who are classified as heavy drinkers are up to 2.6 times more likely to develop cancer of the larynx.
  • These same individuals are five times more likely to be diagnosed with some form of mouth cancer.

The risks become even more profound for those who consume hard liquor, as the mouth can be damaged to a greater extent. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of red wine on occasion, make it a point to drink in moderation. 

Oral Health and Cancer

Many readers will be surprised to learn that the health of their teeth and gums can also have an impact. Therefore, the prevention of oral cancer should always involve regular dental checkups. Furthermore, research has discovered a link between the presence of periodontal disease and some forms of oral cancer. 

Dentists are likewise extremely effective at detecting the early warning signs of a problem (such as conditions including erythroplakia and leukoplakia). This innate awareness of oral cancer will dramatically increase your chances of a full recovery if a malignancy is discovered. 

The Hidden Risk of HPV

HPV is an acronym for human papillomavirus. This is a sexually transmitted disease and in the majority of cases, it will resolve itself without the need for any type of proactive intervention. 

The problem here is that in rare instances, it may remain dormant in your system for years at a time. HPV has been definitively linked to throat cancer as well as cancer of the genitals. The good news is that a vaccine exists. If you feel that you are at risk of being exposed to HPV, it could be wise to schedule a vaccination. 

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Dietary habits also play a key role in the prevention of oral cancer. Foods rich in antioxidants have been shown to be particularly effective at helping to thwart numerous types of cancer (including oral cancer). Some potent and tasty suggestions include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Green tea
  • Substances high in vitamin C
  • Folate-rich foods such as broccoli, liver and leafy green vegetables
  • Curcumin/turmeric

Avoid fried foods, substances that contain many artificially processed ingredients as well as foods high in sugar. These may contribute to increased levels of inflammation throughout the body and some believe that there is a link between inflammatory conditions and cancer. 

What are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?

Now that we have developed a greater awareness of oral cancer and its direct links to lifestyle preferences, it is wise to examine some of the warning signs that a professional diagnosis is in order. Consider the symptoms outlined immediately below:

  • Unexpected pain or bleeding in the mouth
  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Sores or lumps in the throat
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Swelling in the neck or jaw
  • Localised numbness in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficulty chewing, moving your tongue, swallowing, or speaking

Note that these symptoms can often be difficult to diagnose without the help of a trained professional and they do not always signify that cancer is present. However, any of the situations above that last for more than two weeks should be diagnosed by an expert. 

Prevention is the Best Medication

Although oral cancer is indeed a serious condition, it is also one of the most treatable if caught early. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you suspect a problem. See your dentist regularly for checkups.

 Ultimately, developing an acute awareness of oral cancer and its symptoms is the best way to ensure a long and healthy life.


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