TOBACCO & ORAL CANCER

Tobacco and alcohol are the most important oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer risk factors. Mouth cancer is largely a lifestyle disease

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Tobacco and alcohol are the most important oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer risk factors. Mouth cancer is largely a lifestyle disease, meaning that the majority of cases are related to tobacco and alcohol use. Approximately 90% of people with mouth cancer are tobacco users. People who stop using tobacco, even after many years of use, can greatly reduce their risk of all smoking related illnesses, including mouth cancer. The best way to avoid these cancers is to never start smoking or chewing tobacco in any form.

There are two types of smokeless tobacco - snuff and chewing tobacco.

Snuff, a finely ground or shredded tobacco, is packaged as dry, moist, or in sachets (tea bag-like pouches). Typically, the user places a pinch or dip between the cheek and gum.

Chewing tobacco is available in loose leaf, plug (plug-firm and plug-moist), or twist forms, with the user putting a wad of tobacco inside the cheek. Smokeless tobacco is sometimes called "spit" or "spitting" tobacco because people spit out the tobacco juices and saliva that build up in the mouth.The most serious health effect of spit tobacco is an increased risk of cancer of the mouth and throat. Oral cancer occurs several times more frequently among snuff dippers compared with non-tobacco users. The risk of cancer of the cheek and gums may increase nearly 50-fold among long-term snuff users.

Studies have shown that about 7% to 27% of regular spit tobacco users have gum recession and bone loss around the teeth. Tobacco can irritate or destroy the gum tissue.

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