April 2012 | Issue 69

Oral Cancers:
Three Things You Need to Know

head/neck x-ray April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and we want to help spread the prevention message. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, close to 37,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer in 2012. The most common risk factors include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption and HPV infection.

But there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. AICR experts estimate that if Americans followed these three recommendations we could prevent an impressive sixty-three percent of oral cancers in the US every year. That's over 22,000 cases each year.

Prevention: Easy as 1-2-3

1. Do not smoke or chew tobacco

Research is clear that tobacco increases risk for cancers of the lung, mouth, lips, nasal cavity and sinuses, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterus, cervix, colon/rectum, ovary, and acute myeloid leukemia. Research also shows, when combined with alcohol, tobacco can raise oral cancer risk significantly.

2. Limit alcoholic beverages

Strong evidence suggests that alcohol increases the risk for oral and throat cancer. If you drink alcohol, AICR recommends limiting your consumption to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.


  • Know that one drink equals: 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
  • Try alcohol alternatives like these antioxidant-rich fruit punches.


3. Eat More Plant-Based Foods

The AICR/WCRF expert report found that fruits and vegetables protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, stomach and esophagus.

Aim for at least 5 servings per day. A cancer-fighting diet should also include whole grains and legumes, which contain fiber and other important phytochemicals.


  • Try cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which contain dietary fiber, folate, carotenoids (including beta-carotene) and vitamin C.
  • Explore more foods for cancer prevention with our new resource, Foods that Fight Cancer.


For more information on Oral and Esophageal Cancers check out AICR's brochure: Reducing Your Risk of Oral and Esophageal Cancers.


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