5 Ways to Prevent Oral Cancer
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which presents us with a great opportunity to talk about prevention measures and methods for making positive changes. Like most cancers, oral cancer can be prevented by engaging in a healthier lifestyle. The key to prevention is making lifestyle adjustment that avoid high risk behaviors and encourage protective behaviors.
Let’s dive into 5 big ways that people can prevent oral cancer.
1) Quit Smoking
Two behaviors that can lead to oral cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol, especially in combination. Oral cancer can be caused by smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, as well as chewing tobacco. According to the National Cancer Institute, the risk of oral cancer increases tenfold for current smokers compared to those who have never smoked. This risk increases with the total number of cigarettes smoked per day.
Luckily, quitting smoking reduces the chance of developing oral cancer by 50% within 5 years. Former smokers who have stayed off of tobacco for 10 years reduce their risk to that of someone who never smoked.
2) Reduce Alcohol Use
Cancer Treatment Centers of America reports that 70% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. The American Association for Cancer Research estimates that the risk of oral cancer doubles for people who consume 3 to 4 alcoholic drinks a day. The risk multiplies for people who use both alcohol and tobacco.
3) Eat a Healthier Diet
A poor diet can also contribute to oral cancer. Eating a balanced diet—including more fruits and vegetables—can prevent oral cancer by contributing fiber to your diet. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits a day, especially those with a variety of dark colors that reflect high nutrient content. Whole-grain breads and pastas can be substituted for refined grains, and fish, poultry, and beans can replace red and processed meat.
4) Protect Yourself from the Sun
The sun’s rays can cause cancer on sensitive lips. To protect your lips, wear sun protection, such as lip balm with sunscreen. Colored lipstick can also shield your lips from sun exposure. Exposure to UV rays should be limited any time of year, not just in the summer months.
5) Get Vaccinated
Most people know that HPV can lead to reproductive cancers, but it can also increase the risk of cancers in the mouth or throat. Receiving the HPV vaccine can help prevent oral cancer by reducing your chances of contracting an infection.
Not all cancers can be prevented, but you can reduce the threat of oral cancer by making changes in your life.
The Importance of Early Detection
The earlier oral cancer is detected, the better the chance for survival. Getting screened for the signs of oral cancer is important. Screenings look for cancer at an early stage before any symptoms appear. Early-stage cancers are easier to treat. Cumberland Surgical Arts also advises that patients regularly visit their dentists, who may catch early signs of cancer during examination.
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