April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and it is concerning that oral cancer is a life-threatening disease with an overall 5 year survival rate of 60%. It has been established that there are higher risks of cancer attributed to alcohol and tobacco use.

The good news is that if detected early, survival rates are 80 – 90%. If your lifestyle is in line with The American Institute for Cancer Research guidelines, there is almost a 70% reduced risk of head and neck cancers.

Recommendations include:

  • Body fat within “normal” range. There is a known association between obesity and cancer. Keep your body weight in the normal range, avoid weight gain and try for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • Avoid food and drinks that promote weight gain. Fast food and sugary foods and drinks should be ingested sparingly, if at all.
  • Plant foods over animal foods. Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits. Refined, starchy foods should be limited, and people should consume less than 18oz. of red meat per week.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Periodontal disease is associated with oral cancer. Regular visits to the dentist and good mouth health will help with prevention.

If you have any usual symptoms, including patches inside the mouth, pain swallowing, or lumps or numbness in the mouth and chin, see your dental professional. Spread the word — your chances of beating it depend on how soon you find it.

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