Something You Didn’t Know About Winter Sports

February 24, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health


If you enjoy winter sports, or have been watching the 2010 Winter Games a surprise health fact has emerged. It is well documented that alpine athletes are particularly in danger of developing skin and lip cancers due to prolonged exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation while training and competing at high altitudes. If you enjoy two weeks skiing it is probably not a concern to you, but be aware that the damaging radiation largely occurs when the sun reflects off the surface of the ice and snow.

This year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to screen a record number of athletes for oral cancer. This type of preventive health care is virtually unknown in the sports world and with 70 dentists on hand to deal with normal dental problems they took the opportunity to actively promote an increased oral screening campaign that included education for athletes on the importance of applying sun-cream to help prevent mouth cancers

Mouth cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat and kills one person every five hours in the UK, with the number of new cases rising faster than almost any other cancer.

Traditionally mouth cancer was considered to be an older man’s condition, but recent years have seen more and more women and young people affected. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said that early detection is vital to a patient’s long–term survival, which means regular visits to the dentist. Don’t grit your teeth at the thought, apparently we are very dilatory in taking care of our mouth and teeth and tend to ignore a seemingly trivial symptom which can lead to the prospect of major surgery, and concern that cancer may return in the future.

What to look out for? Dr Carter suggests if you have a mouth ulcer which does not heal within three weeks, or notice any discomfort or other changes in your mouth, then get it checked. At least once a year visit your dentist to look for the signs of cancer and you are a heavy smoker, drinker or use chewing tobacco, make sure your dentist is aware of this.

For more information on mouth cancer call the National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188, or visit