Drinking Alcohol May Increase Oral Cancer Risk

April 26, 2021
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

Millions of people around the world enjoy an occasional glass of their favorite alcoholic beverage. But for some, drinking can become problematic- especially during the pandemic. In fact, a new study has found that alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic, by rates of 60 percent. A staggering 46 percent of that increase reportedly is due to stress.

In addition to the well-known problems increased drinking can cause, including alcoholism and damage to the liver, did you know that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also be bad for your oral health?

It’s true, and unfortunately alcohol-related oral health problems are on the incline, too.

Increased alcohol consumption can cause an increase in mouth sores, gum disease, tooth decay, and even oral cancer.

So how much alcohol is “too much?” Heavy drinking is considered drinking eight or more drinks per week for women, or 15 and over for men. Furthermore, if mixed with smoking, those who drink excessively are at a 30 times increased risk of getting oral cancer – compelling reasons to quit both.

Men are unfortunately at a higher risk for developing oral cancer, with this particular type of cancer one of the top 10 cancers that affect men. It is most typically found in men over the age of 55.

So, what can you do to cut your cancer risk? For starters, if you are a heavy drinker, it’s time to cut back. Next, be sure to quit smoking entirely if you smoke, and that includes the very dangerous smoking of e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping.’

If you need help or resources to stop drinking, reach out to your doctor, Dr. Mingus, or your local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Attending regular dental exams is a great way to screen for oral cancer. Dr. Mingus and his staff can check your mouth and throat right at your exam. It’s also important to screen yourself for oral cancers at home. If you notice a mouth sore that won’t heal, white spots in the mouth, lumps in the throat, jaw pain or ear pain, or the feeling of a lump in the throat, contact Dr. Mingus for an exam today.