Our Dental Blog
Posts for tag: Oral Cancer
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make if you want to reduce your risk of oral cancer, with quitting a tobacco habit at the top of the list. You should also moderate your alcohol consumption and practice safe sex to prevent the spread of the human papilloma virus (HPV 16) linked to oral cancer.
And there's one other area that might be ripe for change—your diet. The foods we consume can work both ways in regard to cancer: some, especially processed products with certain chemicals, increase your cancer risk; more natural foods, on the other hand, can help your body fight cancer formation.
Although how cancer forms and grows isn't fully understood, we do know some of the mechanisms involved. One major factor in cancer growth is damage to DNA, the molecule that contains all the instructions for normal cell growth. Certain chemicals called carcinogens cause much of this DNA damage.
One example of these dangerous chemicals are nitrosamines, found in substances used to preserve meats like bacon or ham. Nitrosamines also occur in beer during the brewing process, some fish and fish products, processed cheese and foods pickled with nitrite salt. It's believed long-term consumption of foods with these chemicals can increase the risk of cancer.
On the other hand, there are foods with substances called antioxidants that help our bodies resist cancer. Antioxidants protect cells from unstable molecules called free radicals that can also damage DNA. You'll find antioxidants in abundance in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those high in fiber. Vitamins like C and E found in many natural foods also have antioxidant properties.
So, to help keep your risk of cancer and other diseases low, make sure your diet includes mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, along with plant-based fats found in nuts or olive oil. At the same time minimize your consumption of processed foods with preservatives and other chemicals, along with animal and saturated fats.
A change in eating not only reduces your cancer risk, it can also improve your overall health and well-being. You'll also find a healthy diet can be dental-friendly—it can help keep your teeth and gums disease-free and healthy.
If you would like more information on dental-friendly nutrition practices, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”
What your dentist in Decatur wants you to know
Oral cancer can be disfiguring and even fatal. Fortunately, there are some common signs and symptoms you can look for that may indicate early precancerous or cancerous changes. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to surviving oral cancer. Dr. Carol Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL wants to share how to look for oral cancer, prevention, and professional oral cancer screening.
Some common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- White or red open lesions in your mouth that aren’t healing
- Chronically irritated or sore areas in your mouth
- Wrinkling or thickening of oral tissues
- Eroded or rough areas in your mouth
- Numbness or tenderness around your lips or in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or talking
- A chronically hoarse voice or a sore throat
One of the most important things you can do to prevent oral cancer is to stop smoking or using tobacco products. You should also avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol because the combination of alcohol and tobacco is responsible for most oral cancers in this country.
If you have lifestyle risk factors for oral cancer, you should perform a self-exam regularly to check for any tissue changes or lesions. If you can catch any signs early, leading to early diagnosis, you can improve your chances of surviving oral cancer by as much as 75 percent. If cancer has spread, chances of reaching five year survival are only 20 percent.
If you use tobacco or drink alcohol, make sure you go in for an oral cancer screening from your dentist regularly. Your dentist will check the inside of your cheeks, under your tongue, the roof of your mouth, back of your throat and other areas to look for tissue changes. They may request an oral biopsy to determine whether tissue changes are normal.
Oral cancer is serious and shouldn’t be ignored. The National Cancer Institute estimates nearly 8,000 people will die from oral cancer each year. For more information about oral cancer or to schedule an oral cancer exam, call Dr. Carol Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL today!