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Does Your Lifestyle Leave You Exposed to Higher Cancer Risks?

Posted on 3/20/2017 by Dr. Pickens
A can of chewing tobacco inside of a man's hand.
Oral cancer affects thousands of people every year. It is a category that includes cancer that affects any area of the mouth, including the tongue, cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, gums and the entrance to the throat.

If not caught early and treated promptly, oral cancer can be fatal. While cancer can strike anyone, your lifestyle can greatly increase your risk.

Tobacco Products

Smoking, or the use of any tobacco containing product (chewing tobacco or snuff), has a number of effects on your overall health, and oral cancer is one that often goes undiscussed. Tobacco products contain numerous harmful ingredients, including many carcinogenic chemicals.

These chemicals come into contact with the delicate tissues of your mouth and can alter their chemistry, turning the cells cancerous. Smokers are up to 6 times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers.


Many people partake in the occasional drink. This in and of itself does not increase your cancer risk. What does is excessive drinking. Alcohol interferes with your body's natural processes, including its ability to heal itself.

Approximately 70% or oral cancer patients were heavy drinkers. And your risk increases exponentially if you use tobacco products and drink excessively.

A poor diet has an extremely negative impact on your body. You gain weight, heart problems increase, and you increase your risk for developing cancer, including oral cancer. Fast foods, foods high in saturated fat, fried foods, all can be detrimental to your health, especially when eaten frequently and not balanced with other foods.

On the other hand, healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals and protein to rebuild.


Human papilloma virus, or HPV, encompasses several different strains of virus. While many of them are connected to cancer (specifically cervical cancer), a few are linked to oral cancer. Having several partners, especially unprotected, will greatly increase your risk for HPV, and therefore oral cancer.

Certain lifestyle factors can greatly increase your chances of developing oral cancer. However, it's not too late to change. Making changes for the better will not only lower your oral cancer risk, but leave you healthier overall!

Please contact our office if you have any questions about oral cancer.
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Dr. Drue Pickens
Pickens Family Dentistry

7508 NE Vancouver Mall Dr.
Vancouver, WA 98662

Phone: (360) 254-6411
Fax: (360) 944-5952

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