Alcohol and Oral Cancer

Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

Those individuals who overindulge in alcohol will be putting their health at risk. There is no need for people to become a rock bottom alcoholic before they suffer the consequences of overindulgence. Alcohol acts as a toxin in the body and it can damage almost every organ. One of the real dangers that is sometimes forgotten is the risk of developing oral cancer. There is a strong relationship between alcohol abuse and the development of this type of growth.

Oral Cancer Explained

Cancer refers to a group of diseases that all involve the uncontrollable growth of cells in the body. This proliferation of cells invades and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Those who have developed oral cancer are dealing with the unwanted growth of cells in their mouth. In most instances this will a squamous cell carcinoma, and this means that it can progress rapidly. It is common for this type of cancer to occur on the tongue and lips, but it may also develop on the:

* Roof of the mouth
* Floor of the mouth
* In the lining of the cheek
* In the hard or soft palate
* In the throat
* In the sinuses

This type of cancer is life threatening if not dealt with quickly.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The symptoms of oral cancer can include:

* Bleeding in the mouth
* Loose teeth.
* Patches inside the mouth that can be red or white – most commonly white.
* Mouth or lip sores that do not seem to heal.
* The appearance of a lump on the neck.
* An ear ache.
* The individual finds that they have developed problems related to wearing their dentures.
* Experiencing swelling in the mouth.
* The individual is experiencing hoarseness.
* It can feel like there is something caught at the back of their throat.
* Sudden weight loss.
* Thickening in the mouth.
* Discomfort when moving the jaw.
* Difficulties related to chewing or swallowing.
* Numbness or any loss of sensation in the mouth.

Causes of Oral Cancer

There is not believed to be one single cause for why people develop this type of cancer. There are things that can increase the risk of developing this condition including:

* Overindulgence in alcohol.
* Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
* Chewing betel nut – some cultures like to chew this seed because it is a mild stimulant.
* Chronic irritation from things like ill-fitting dentures, ragged teeth, or fillings.
* Poor dental care and oral hygiene.
* Drugs that suppress the immune system can increase the risk of developing this condition.
* Certain infections including the human papilloma virus (HPV).
* Too much sun exposure on the lips.
* Family history of cancer.

Oral Cancer and Alcohol

A study published in 2011 found that alcohol is a major factor in the development of oral cancer. In the UK it is believed that 37% of this form of cancer in men and 17% in women are due to alcohol consumption. Those who drink excessively are most at risk, and people who smoke cigarettes as well as drinking excessively have the most risk (38 times more at risk than the non smoker and non drinker).

Alcohol is a toxin and irritant and constant exposure to this substance increases the risk of developing a number of diseases – including oral cancer. Drinking is actually more dangerous than heroin use. Those who stick to recommended levels of alcohol consumption will be at less risk, but those who abuse alcohol will be in danger of things like oral cancer – the amount of alcohol consumed is more important than the type of product. Studies do not suggest that using mouthwashes containing alcohol will increase the risk of developing oral cancer.

Treatments for Oral Cancer

There are a number of treatment options available for people who have been diagnosed with oral cancer. The most important thing is to begin treatment immediately as a delay could have dire consequences. The most commonly used treatments for this type of cancer include:

* Surgery to remove the growth.
* In some cases surgery will need to be combined with radiation to ensure that the cancerous cells are completely eradicated.
* The individual may need a feeding tube to ensure adequate nutrition.
* Some people can require reconstructive surgery for cosmetic reasons. This is because the treatments to remove the growths can involve surgically removing a great deal of tissue from the face mouth, jaw, and neck.
* Speech therapy may be required.

The sooner people receive treatment for oral cancer the more hopeful will be their prognosis.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

Some individuals have no known risk factors yet they can still go on to develop oral cancer. This means that there may be no way to completely guarantee that an individual will never develop this type of condition. There are things that people can do to reduce their risk including:

* Stick to the recommended levels for safe alcohol consumption. This means 1 drink per day for women, 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for anyone over the age of 65.
* Quit smoking cigarettes. This is one of the best things that people can do to improve their health and reduce their risk for many diseases.
* Avoid chewing tobacco or chewing betel nut.
* Ensure good dental hygiene on a daily basis.
* Visit the dentist regularly.
* Don’t wear ill fitting dentures.
* Avoid too much sun – those who intend to lie in the sun should be careful to protect the lips as well as the rest of the body.

It is important that people are aware of the symptoms associated with oral cancer. If they have any suspicious they should contact their physician right away.

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