Risk Factors Associated with Oral Cancer

oral cancerAnything that increases your risk of developing a disease is known as a risk factor. Everyone is at risk of getting oral cancer but certain factors place you at a higher risk of developing it. Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth or throat with most of the cancers starting in the tongue and in the floor of the mouth.

The following are the general, genetic, and lifestyle risk factors associated with oral cancer:

The gender factor – Oral and oropharyngeal cancer are two times as widespread in men as in women. Alcohol and tobacco use constitute a significant oral cancer risk factor which is more prevalent in men than women, hence the difference may be linked to their use. However, since more women are using tobacco and alcohol, the gender difference among oral cancer patients is lessening.

The age factor – The oral cancer diagnosis age averages at about 60 to 62 with two thirds of the people with the ailment being over 55 years old.

The UV light factor – Individuals who are either exposed to sunlight for longer periods or work in the open commonly tend to develop cancers of the lip. Unhealthy diet deficient in vegetables and fruits has also been linked to a heightened risk of oral and oropharynx cancer.

The family history factor – Individuals who have a family history of oral cancer have a higher risk of the disease.

Using tobacco products – Tobacco in whatever form, be it cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing and sniffing tobacco, can lead to oral cavity and oropharynx cancer. It is estimated that 80 percent of individuals with this condition use these products.

Using alcohol – The more the number of drinks consumed per day the higher the risk of developing oral cancer. This risk doubles or triples in people who drink alcohol and smoke tobacco than in those who only drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. It is estimated that 70 percent of individuals found with oral cancer drink heavily.

Blending and chewing betel quid and tobacco – A lot of people from various locations of the world chew these two which have been linked to a greater risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

Graft-versus-host disease abbreviated as GVH, HPV infection, immune system suppression, lichen planus are additional risk factors of oral cancer. There also have been some concerns which however are still debatable about the possibility of some products such as mouthwash increasing the risk of oral cancer owing to their high alcohol content. Even though so far there has been no proof, there are unconfirmed risk factors linked to irritation arising from dentures.

It is clear that some oral cancer risk factors can be lowered particularly those linked to lifestyle. Avoiding these factors can help prevent oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer.