According to the American Cancer Society, over 35,000 Americans have oral cancer. The risks are higher if you are a male, over the age of 35, or have a history of other cancers, but there are some lifestyle habits that increase anyone’s risk, and some steps you can take:
- Don’t use tobacco. Up to 90% of patients with oral cancers use tobacco, and the risk increases with the amount smoked or chewed. Quitting smoking and chewing tobacco will lower your risk, even after years of use.
- Moderate your drinking. About 75% to 80% of all patients with oral cancer drink alcohol frequently.
- Limit your exposure to sunlight. More than 30% of patients with cancers of the lip have outdoor jobs associated with prolonged and repeated exposure to sunlight.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A diet low in the natural antioxidants fresh produce provides is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity.
- Know the signs. If you have a sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal easily or is always bleeding, or a persistent pain in the mouth or ear, see your dentist or physician immediately. Early detection and treatment increases chances of recovery.
- A cup of joe? In 2012, the American Cancer Society found a link between drinking coffee and reduced risk of death from oral/pharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer. It showed drinking more than 4 cups of caffeinated coffee a day cut the likelihood of dying from oral/pharyngeal cancer in half. However, I don’t recommend drinking coffee if you don’t enjoy it, or dislike the effect it has on your nervous system or digestion.
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