Nobody wants to experience oral cancer at any point in their life. Unfortunately, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that about 48,330 people will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Also, 66% of Americans will discover they have oral cancer in its late stages.
If patients want to increase their chances of surviving, then early diagnosis or prevention is extremely important. But what are the signs of oral cancer, and how can you keep it from you and your family? Dr. Stuart J. Froum has great answers, including some great foods for cancer prevention. First, let’s review some oral cancer basics.
Common Oral Cancer Symptoms
Oral cancer is often found on the lips, tongue or under the tongue. However, it can also be found elsewhere in the mouth. But what does it look like exactly? You should know that this disease isn’t always visible in its early stages, which is why we recommend our comprehensive oral cancer screenings to all our Manhattan patients.
Here are some common symptoms of oral cancer:
- A persistent sore or strange growth in the mouth
- Red or white colored lesions
- Loose teeth or sudden bleeding in the mouth
- A numbness or mouth pain that doesn’t go away
- A feeling of something caught in the back of the throat
- Ear pain without hearing loss
If you’re currently experiencing any of these symptoms, you should let a dentist or doctor know right away. Again, early diagnosis is very important for effectively treating oral cancer.
However, maybe you’re not manifesting any of these symptoms. How can you avoid them altogether?
5 Oral Cancer Prevention Tips
Here at Stuart J. Froum DDS, we’re happy to help our patients with existing issues. However, we also believe in preventative health. Following the advice below can increase your chances of never contracting oral cancer.
1. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
The Oral Health Foundation (UK) reports that 1 in 3 oral cancer cases is linked to excessive alcohol consumption. If you don’t want oral cancer to be a part of your story, the American Cancer Society recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. Let moderation be your guide in 2017 and prepare to see better oral health because of it!
2. Steer Clear Of Tobacco Use
According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, 90% of oral cancer patients are tobacco users. Moreover, people who use tobacco and drink often are at an even higher risk for mouth cancer. For decades, tobacco use of all kinds has been connected with other kinds of diseases as well. Some of these include the following:
- Lung cancer
- Throat cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
If you still have smoking habits, we urge you to consider its effects on your oral health as well as those around you.
3. Develop And Maintain Good Oral Care Habits
A person’s risk for oral cancer goes up 2.5 times if they have periodontal disease and 60 times higher if they have 6 or more missing teeth. Because of this, we recommend using and maintaining great brushing and flossing habits. Consider the following tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes or more
- Brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth
- Floss daily, gently and close to your teeth to avoid gum damage
- Drink plenty of water every day
- Use softer toothbrushes to prevent enamel loss and gum erosion
Remember that brushing and flossing daily are only the first steps. How you brush and floss is just as important as well. If you develop the above habits and don’t rush through your oral care times, you’ll be in good shape to keep oral cancer at bay.
4. See A Good Dentist Twice A Year For Checkups
Reports from the National Institute of Dental Craniofacial Research state that if oral cancer is found early enough, the odds of successful treatment are high. This is why regular dental appointments are so important. Oral cancer can be difficult to self-diagnose in its early stages, but experienced dentists will know the signs of this disease.
Don’t rely solely on your own oral care habits. Instead, visit an experienced dentist like Dr. Stuart J. Froum at least twice a year to secure your oral health.
5. Eat Healthy Cancer-Fighting Foods
One study shows the right kind of diet that can keep oral cancer from materializing: “Current evidence supports a recommendation of a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a whole-foods, plant-based diet with limit consumption of meat, particularly processed meat.” These findings are why we’re supplying you with a list of great foods that can prevent oral cancer.
Changing a regular diet may be inconvenient for some, but it’s one of the best ways to promote overall as well as oral health. After all, the Oral Health Foundation states that “up to half of all mouth cancer cases are partly due to poor diet.”
Try incorporating the below foods into your regular meals, and watch how you’ll feel and look better while fighting oral cancer.
Blueberries, raspberries and more have long been commended for their overall health benefits. Besides antioxidants and other vitamin-rich properties, research also shows that berries pack an oral cancer-fighting component called ellagic acid. This phytonutrient helps slow cancer cell growth and helps keep the liver healthy as well.
Pro tip: If you don’t like eating berries on their own, try placing them in another breakfast or snack food like oatmeal or yogurt for a tasty combination.
Cancer experts have championed the disease-preventing benefits of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D—including fish like salmon and tuna. Including fish in your diet can prevent both cancer and periodontal disease, which severely limits chances that you will contract oral cancer. The value of a fish-friendly diet has been promoted by other health experts. Because of this, our patients will benefit if they follow this advice.
Pro tip: Many people love fish sticks and other kinds of fried seafood. However, try steamed, broiled or grilled fish for healthier alternatives that still taste great.
Broccoli, Cauliflower & Cabbage
These foods in the cabbage family are also called “cruciferous vegetables,” and all of them are excellent choices for preventing oral cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that these vegetables slow cancer cell growth and keep cancers from ever forming. As you might expect, other vegetables are important for a cancer-fighting diet as well.
Pro tip: Cruciferous vegetables go well with many dishes and cuisines. Try them in stews, casseroles or as steamed sides to main dishes like chicken or fish.
Studies show that people who take vitamin C supplements have a 24% lower risk of oral cancer. While supplements are good, you still can’t beat getting vitamin C naturally from fruits like oranges and grapefruits.
Citrus fruits have a number of properties that can help fight diseases like cancer, including terpenes which can influence cell cycle progression. Just be careful to eat oranges, grapefruits and other citrus goodies in moderation. The acidity in these fruits can also harm teeth if consumed excessively.
Pro tip: Citrus fruits are great dessert foods because they help neutralize food odors and bad breath. This is due to the high amounts of vitamin C within these fruits.
When it comes to oral cancer prevention and diet, it’s not just what you eat but also how you prepare it. Recent reports published last year showed that extra-virgin olive oil is very effective in killing cancer cells. This makes it the oil of choice for people who want to stay cancer free. Beyond this, minimizing frying and grilling and using healthier cooking techniques can help immensely as well.
Pro tip: Olive oil doesn’t just fight cancer of all kinds. It also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis—and it may be able to prevent strokes and slow down aging as well. No wonder some of the world’s longest-living cultures have used olive oil in their cooking!
Consider An Oral Cancer Screening In 2017
We encourage our Manhattan patients to be proactive in the fight against oral cancer. Don’t wait for it to show up announced. Instead, focus on preventive measures like great oral hygiene habits and diet choices.
Of course, one of the best preemptive actions you can take is to get an oral cancer screening in our office. Dr. Stuart J. Froum uses the award-winning VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System to ensure accurate diagnoses. What’s more, he has over 35 years of cancer intraoral screening experience.
Don’t play guessing games with your oral health—schedule an appointment with Dr. Stuart J. Froum today. You’ll find confidence in our advanced technology, years of experience and genuine care.
American Cancer Society (2014, February 12). Alcohol Use and Cancer.
American Cancer Society (2016, January 27). What are the key statistics about oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers?
American Institute for Cancer Research (n.d.) Feasting with Cruciferous for Cancer Prevention.
Domino, D. (2011, March 2). Fruits and vegetables can help prevent oral cancer.
LeGendre, O. (2015, January 23). Oleocanthal rapidly and selectively induces cancer cell death via lysosomal membrane permeabilization.
National Institute of Dental Craniofacial Research (2016, September). Oral Cancer.
Olive Oil Times (2016). Special Report: Olive Oil Health Benefits.
Oral Health Foundation (2016). Risk factors.