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Mouth Cancer Awareness Month

One person in the UK dies from mouth cancer every five hours! Mouth cancer is the cause of more deaths than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined! These are startling facts.

Over the past decade, cases of mouth cancer have risen by 41%. It is diagnosed in over 5,000 people annually and kills almost 2,000 people each year. Lack of public awareness has been highlighted as a contributing factor for this increase. Many people aren’t sure of the symptoms and many aren’t even aware of the existence of mouth cancer at all!

mouth cancer awarenessA major reason behind the increasing number of cancers like mouth cancer and throat cancer among young people is the habit of binge drinking. In the past the risk of developing mouth cancer increased with age and most cases affected people over 40 years of age.

75% of all cases are linked to tobacco use or excess alcohol consumption. People who both drink and smoke are up to 30 times more likely to develop the condition.

Another cause that leads to cancer is the lack of fresh vegetables and fruits in the diet of the current generation. In a survey carried out by Aberdeen University people lacking a good diet and those who indulge in smoking and drinking, accounted for 90% of the people suffering from aero-digestive tact cancer.

Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Centre and Harvard School of Public Health followed 87000 nurses for 30 years and discovered that women who consume high volumes of folic acid found in Vitamin B from vegetables and some fruits are less likely to suffer from mouth cancer. Whilst the study focused on women they also consider that men will benefit from the protective value of increased fruit and vegetables.

Folic acid or vitamin B9 is essential to an individual’s health by helping to make and maintain new cells. It is found in vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, beans, peas and lentils and is added to bread. Fruit juices, broccoli and brussel sprouts contain smaller amounts.

An early diagnosis improves survival chances to more 90%. However many cases of mouth cancer are detected at a late stage, reducing the chances of survival. Mouth cancer survival is poor with only around half of cases surviving for 5 years

So what can you do detect a mouth cancer? Regular dental health checks will help. Dentists will check out patient lips, cheeks, tongue roof and floor of their mouths for ulcers, red or white patches or unusual lumps or swelling.

A change in lifestyle itself can bring about a lot of change and many lives can hence be saved .Give up smoking, consume less alcohol and eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, especially those rich in Folic acid or vitamin B9 is the message.

The most important thing to remember is that early diagnosis of mouth cancer can save your life. Initial symptoms include one or more mouth ulcers that do not heal, red or white patches on the lining of your mouth or tongue, and any unusual lumps or swelling in the mouth. If it does not heal within three weeks consult a dentist and get the area checked out.

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