27 November 2014

The very nature of our job could be increasing the risk of developing mouth cancer.

A leading oral health charity believes exposure to secondhand smoke, time in the sun and regular consumption of processed foods and alcohol as part of our jobs could increase the chances of developing the disease.

A new survey by the British Dental Health Foundation has discovered one in four people regularly eat processed foods at work, while one in five said sun exposure and secondhand smoke was a regular occurrence. A further three in ten said they regularly drank alcohol as part of their job.

The problem appears to be compounded by habits after work, with alcohol, smoking and sexual practices all forming part of a relaxing routine. Only one in four regularly exercised, which has been linked to lowering the risk of cancer.

An empty open plan office pictureTobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, the human papillomavirus (HPV), often transmitted via oral sex, and poor diet are all risk factors for mouth cancer, and Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, hopes for a change in attitude to help reduce growing rates.

Dr Carter said: "Working can be quite stressful at times, and it's entirely understandable that people want to come home and relax. The problem with this is that many of the ways to relax actually increase the chances of developing mouth cancer.

"The problem is made worse by people not taking regular exercise and foregoing a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The idea of a takeaway after a long day at work may sound great, but fast food is one that can cause all sorts of problems, including mouth cancer.

"The same applies to alcohol and smoking. A few pints of water are less enjoyable than a few pints of cider, a few glasses of wine or a few of your favourite shorts, but it is a healthier choice. Drinking alcohol to excess increases the chance of developing mouth cancer, with alcohol and tobacco together increasing the risk by up to 30 times.

"Throughout November, Mouth Cancer Action Month hopes to educate people about the risks they take. Poor lifestyle choices are a major reason people develop the disease, in part due to a lack of knowledge about what causes mouth cancer and the signs and symptoms they should look out for.

"Mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth are cause for concern. So many cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed late because people simply do not know what to look for. Deaths from the disease have breached the 2,000 a year mark for the first time, and this will only continue to increase if the risk factors and signs and symptoms remain unknown.

"Our advice to everyone is plain and simple - if in doubt, get checked out."

For more information about Mouth Cancer Action Month, sponsored by Denplan, supported by Dentists' Provident, the Association of Dental Groups and charity partner the Mouth Cancer Foundation, please visit the official website at www.mouthcancer.org.

The results from the survey have been released as part of Mouth Cancer Action Month 2014. You can read the press release story on the Mouth Cancer Action Month News section.