How to Prevent Oral Cancer Naturally
Plus a 5th bonus remedy for good measure
What do you think of when you hear “Oral Cancer”?
Oral cancer is often associated with cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, but there are many other risk factors.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well as National Dental Hygiene Month, so we thought what better time to discuss the topic of cancer and oral health!
According to the Journal of Oral Research and Review, "Oral cancer is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases all over the world with a five-year survival rate of only 50%. Annually, an estimated 400,000 people worldwide are newly diagnosed with oral cancer, with the prevalence of oral cancer particularly high among men."
Yikes! That number is too high.
We want to help change those rates. Here's what you need to know about preventing and detecting oral cancer:
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is cancer that effects any part of the oral cavity, consisting of the mouth and throat.
There are two types of oral cancer. The first type is oral cancer of the oral cavity – the outside of the lips, the inside of the lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue and floor or roof of the mouth.
The second type is oral cancer of the oropharynx - consisting of the middle region of the throat, the tonsils and base of the tongue.
What Causes Oral Cancer
The Prevent Cancer Foundation cited, “One in four people diagnosed with oral cancer has no risk factors.”
This means that environmental toxicity plays a very large role in the development of oral cancer.
Over time, the absorption of carcinogenic compounds into your mouth and throat such as tobacco, alcohol, and chemicals found in conventional oral care and health and beauty products lead to cancer by damaging our DNA.
Other causes of oral cancer include human papilloma virus (HPV), diet, and poor oral hygiene.
Factors that further increase oral cancer risk include:
- Are age 55 or older
- Smoke or chew tobacco
- Drink alcohol excessively
- Are exposed to sunlight for long periods of time
- Have a weakened immune system by taking certain medications
- Have the skin disease lichen planus, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) or certain inherited conditions of the blood
Oral Cancer Symptoms
- A sore that doesn’t go away
- White or Red patches in the mouth or throat
- Tenderness, pain, or a numbing sensation in the mouth or lips
- A lump, thickening, rough patch, or erosion in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the tongue or jaw
Get to know what’s normal for your mouth and throat by inspecting regularly. If the following signs and symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks, visit your dentist.
In some cases, people complain of a sore throat or experience numbness, hoarseness, or a vocal change. Some people also feel as if something is stuck in their throat.
How to Prevent Oral Cancer
The first line of defense in preventing oral cancer is making healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.
It’s important to eliminate tobacco use in any form and swap oral care products for natural, toxin-free products that contain no carcinogens.
Limit processed food consumption. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that are high in cancer-fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients to increase immunity.
Limit alcohol consumption to one drink or less a day and break up sun exposure to 15-20 minute intervals. If you need to be in the sun longer, use a natural SPF lip balm of 30 or higher.
Have yourself checked regularly for HPV and avoid direct contact with anyone who may currently be carrying the virus.
And finally, talk to your dentist. It’s important to get oral cancer screenings during your regular dental visits. Look at your mouth in the mirror at least once a month, if you see something different tell your dentist right away.