10 lifestyle tips to prevent oral cancer

By Salome Phelamei | Updated: Mar 21, 2014, 19:43 PM IST

Salome Phelamei

Oral cancer in India continues to be a grievous affliction affecting people from all walks of life, age groups and genders. To make matters worse, people tend to ignore their health in a bid to catch up to their hectic lifestyle.

The scenario in the country has grown so abominable that India is known as the oral cancer capital of the world, with 86 percent of the world’s cases recorded in it.

This is probably also due to the fact that India is renowned for cosumption gutka and tobacco products. Also, the rise in the number of cancer patients amongst the youth is a serious cause of concern, with many of them falling victims to the awful disease due to their consumption of oral forms of tobacco.

There is a misconception that cancer is an unavoidable disease, the general tendency among most people is to blame fate or bad luck for the disease.

The fact is that cancer like most other diseases are caused by a variety of lifestyle choices that we make throughout our lives. Smoking, drinking, eating junk food and a sedentary lifestyle as well as many more factors play a part in causing cancer. Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor, Head and Neck Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital, suggests some tips and changes that you can make to your lifestyle to avoid the dreaded disease:

1. Quit Tobacco Chewing: It is a proven fact that tobacco whether chewed raw or in the form of gutka is the single biggest cause of oral cancer in India.

2. Quit Smoking: Smoking in any form whether cigarettes, bidi, pipes or hukka is well known to cause oral cancer.

3. Quit Betel nut and Pan masala: Betel nut or supari is an independent risk factor for oral cancer and it is the main ingredients of pan masala. .

4. Quit Alcohol: Alcohol is an established risk factor for oral cancer. The carcinogenicity increases many folds when consumed along with tobacco.

5. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss your teeth daily as bad oral hygiene is a known risk factor for oral cancer.

6. Regular Self Oral examination: Examine your oral cavity in good light once every month to look for non-healing ulcers, areas of bleeding, abnormal patches or any swellings, as these may be signs of cancer and early detection means better cure.

7. Regular Dental Checkup: The dentist may be the first person to detect oral cancer, also inform him about any sharp tooth causing repeated trauma.

8. Avoid Increased Sun Exposure: UV rays are a known risk factor for cancer especially of the lower lip. Try and limit sun exposure and ensure that you wear a good sun screen whilst going out.

9. Don’t ignore any ulcer / bleeding / pain: If you spot any ulcers or bleeding that do not respond to treatment for 2 -3 months, please get it checked out as it could be something much more serious.

10. Proper Diet and a Healthy Lifestyle: A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts with regular exercise is known to protect from oral cancer. Most of us have sedentary lifestyles and we must try and balance this by doing some form of regular exercise.