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What Should You Know About Mouth Cancer?

Posted in General Health 25 May, 2015

National Smile Month is an annual event organised by the British Dental Health Foundation, and the longest running oral health campaign in UK. It has been around in various guises since 1977, when 1 in 3 Brits didn't have any natural teeth. That is really shocking. I always wondered why Americans had such an issue with our pearly whites.

As well as good teeth, healthy gums and beautiful breath that smells of roses, what else is there to think about when it comes to our mouths? Mouth cancer, that's what, because it kills 2000 people in the UK every year.

How Do I Know If I Have Mouth Cancer?

Your dentist will spot it, so there's another reason to make regular appointments. That and so you avoid a toothache so severe it prevents rational thought.

What Are the Symptoms?

Mouth cancer can affect the gums, lips, tongue and throat. Symptoms are:

  • ulcers that don't heal
  • a hoarse voice
  • red or white patches anywhere in your mouth
  • any lumps around your mouth and jaw

What Causes Mouth Cancer?

Mouth cancer is the 11th most frequent cancer worldwide and smoking is currently the main risk factor. Tobacco contains all kinds of nasties that cause cancer. Smoke floods into every part of your mouth, there's no escape from it's poison.


Not much research exists on e-cigarettes, as they are a fairly recent development, but they still contain nicotine and other chemicals that cause cancer. Do try to give up completely.

Chewing tobacco

Tobacco in any form causes cancer. In India, where chewing tobacco is still common, the rates of mouth cancer are even higher than the UK.

Oral sex

The human papillomavirus virus (HPV), which causes genital warts, is spread by oral sex. It's also linked to cervical and mouth cancer.


Drinking alcohol increases the risks of mouth cancer too. The risks are even higher if you both drink and smoke.

Too much sunlight

Your lips are thinner than the rest of your skin, that's why they are pink. Use a sunscreen on your lips regularly.

How To Prevent Mouth Cancer

In the UK, 7000 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed every year and this number is increasing.

You can take care of yourself by quitting any form of smoking or tobacco ingestion. A sensible diet containing fruit and vegetables, limiting alcohol, and getting regular dental check-ups are vital to keeping your mouth healthy. But you already knew that didn't you? I'm just reminding you that it could save your life as well.

See your GP if you want to give up smoking or find more advice online. You should also book a dentist appointment if you don't already have one on the calendar. Yes, visiting the dentist is a pain, but its part of being a grown-up. That and being so overworked you've started daydreaming about going to bed for sleep, instead of sex.

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