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Oral Cancer On The Rise Due to Increased Alcohol Consumption

Posted Aug 11 2009 9:28am

Alcohol is the main reason to blame for an “alarming” increase in the amount of people in their forties being diagnosed with oral cancers, it has been claimed.

Professionals in the field advised the amount of 40-somethings developing cancers of the mouth, tongue, lip and throat had gone up by 25 per cent in the last ten years.

Smoking and  drinking alcohol are the two biggest risk factors for oral cancers.

However, as smoking commonly takes as long as 30 years to result in cancer, tobacco is not considered to be the main culprit. The blame instead, lies with alcohol, with consumption figures doubling in the last fifty years.

There are other contributing factors associated with the risk of oral cancers including a lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet as well as the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which also causes cervical cancer.

Statistics established by Cancer Research UK reveal that since the mid-1990s, oral cancer rates have increased by 28% for men in their forties and 24% for women.

The charity’s health information manager Hazel Nunn said,  “These latest figures are really alarming. Around three quarters of oral cancers are thought to be caused by smoking and drinking alcohol. Tobacco is, by far, the main risk factor for oral cancer, so it’s important that we keep encouraging people to give up and think about new ways to stop people taking it up in the first place.

“But for people in their 40s, it seems that other factors are also contributing to this jump in oral cancer rates. Alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1950s and the trend we are now seeing is likely to be linked to Britain’s continually rising drinking levels.

“It’s possible that HPV and diet are also playing a role, and the evidence - particularly for the role of HPV - is growing.”

Every year in Britain approximately 5,000 new oral cancers are diagnosed with 1,800 people dying from the disease. Oral cancers include those of the lip, tongue, mouth, throat and a region called the piriform sinus.

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