How You Can Dramatically Cut Risk of Mouth Cancer with Diet – And Increase It

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Mens Health, Womens Health

Mouth cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the UK, and is the cause of more deaths than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined with one death from it every five hours. I have previously highlighted the risks of mouth cancer and now there is news of a specific preventive that works extremely well in helping us avoid mouth cancer and points out exactly what to avoid. For the first time, folic acid intake has been shown to affect the risk of the disease and an unhealthy diet means a threefold increase in risk.

This new information comes from a study of 87,000 nurses who were followed for 30 years from 1976 by researchers from the Columbia University Medical Centre and Harvard School of Public Health. What they found was that women who consume high volumes of folic acid found in Vitamin B from vegetables and some fruits are much less likely to suffer from mouth cancer.

You will find high levels of folic acid in spinach, beetroot, potato, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, banana, oranges and peaches.

What to avoid:
The researchers also discovered that women who drank a high volume of alcohol and had low folic acid intake were three times more likely to develop mouth cancer than those who drank high volumes of alcohol but had high volumes of folic acid in their diet. Alcohol is one of the major risk factors for mouth cancer and those who drink to excess are four times more likely to be diagnosed. Alcohol leads to a reduction in folic acid metabolism by creating acetaldehyde which leads to a reduction of folic acid in the body.

As social habits have changed, so women have been drinking more and the rates of mouth cancer in women have been increasing for many years. It is also be linked to the fact that we are consuming less fresh fruit and vegetables than previous generations.

Previous studies have tended to focus on men, as they are twice as likely to suffer from the disease, but this new information also applies to them.

Recent research has also shown that an increase in food such as eggs and fish that contain Omega 3, and nuts, seeds and brown rice, which are high in fibre, can help decrease the risks. Also brushing twice a day and flossing are key ingredients in oral health and help keep your risk factor down. With its low survival rate, it is critical to pay attention to prevention as only around half of diagnosed cases survive for 5 years.

What to look for:
The Mouth Cancer Action Month Campaign aims to increase awareness and reverse this trend with the theme ‘If in doubt get checked out’. Early warning signs to look out for include a mouth ulcer that has not healed within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth and any unusual swelling or lumps in the mouth. These are all signs that you should get your dentist or doctor to check you out as soon as possible.

Mouth cancer is twice more common in men than in women, though an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with the disease. Previously, the disease has been five times more common in men than women. Age is another factor, with people over the age of 40 more likely to be diagnosed, though more young people are now being affected than previously.

The two biggest risk factors are alcohol, gum disease and tobacco and if you both smoke and drink alcohol in excess you are up to 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with mouth cancer.

For more information visit or call the Dental Helpline, which offers free impartial advice to consumers on 0845 063 1188 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Brushing away mouth cancer

October 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


Is it just me or is there anyone out there who likes going to the dentist? If you do, congratulations, and if you are also a regular brusher and flosser you may have a regime that will help you avoid mouth cancer.

This disease is diagnosed in over 5,000 people each year and that is a 40 per cent rise in cases in just 10 years and 1,800 die from the disease each year. On average one death every 5 hours and there are now more deaths from it than cervical or testicular cancer. So it pays to do what you can to avoid it and according to a report in The American Association for Cancer Research’s latest journal those aforementioned good habits could prove vital in combating mouth cancer.

Poor mouth hygiene and less than zealous dental habits can lead to chronic gum disease (periodontitis) and that is a high risk factor for mouth cancer. You get chronic gum disease from a build-up of plaque in the mouth which can result in long-standing inflammation of the gums and eventual loss of your teeth.

Previously mouth cancer has been linked to smoking, but this new study of 463 patients found that gum disease was an equal risk factor leading to cancer whether the subjects smoked or not.

Want to avoid it?

There is some advice so simple I am almost embarrassed to pass it on – but not quite. All you have to do (assuming you don’t already) is to brush twice a day with toothpaste and clean between the teeth with an interdental brush or floss. They recommend using a fluoride toothpaste, but I prefer a natural alternative that does the same job and that is Vicco, an Ayurvedic Toothpaste containing extracts of 20 herbs, roots and barks all valued for their theraputic effects on teeth and gums. Made in Mumbai, you may find it in your local health store or online at

Next, screw up that courage, oh that’s me again, and have regular dental check ups to look for potential problems and have your teeth professionally cleaned to help control gum disease.

Finally, know the risk factors which include alcohol and HPV (human papillomavirus) which is transmitted via oral sex with an infected person. Poor diet is also linked to mouth cancer and evidence shows an increase in fruit and vegetables lowers the risk, as can fish and eggs.

Look for these signs

There are some simple warning signs that you need to be aware of. Every week have a good peer inside your mouth with a mirror and look for any ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches and any unusual changes in the mouth.

See any of these and take action, as the sooner you spot mouth cancer, the better your chances. Early detection improves survival chances from around half of cases to more than 90% and I will remind you again in November as that is Mouth Cancer Action Month.