The risk of developing mouth cancer can be reduced by consuming cruciferous vegetables at least once a week, suggests new research published in Annals of Oncology.

Prior research has indicated that women who eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables have better breast cancer survival rates, when compared to those who do not.

The current research supports the link between poor diet and mouth cancer, the British Dental Health Foundation explained, not eating healthy is a major risk factor for developing the disease.

Cruciferous vegetables, from the vegetable family Brassicaceae, include:

  • bok choy
  • watercress
  • broccoli
  • sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • radish
  • cabbage

The experts discovered that individuals who included green vegetables in their diet at least once a week, decreased their chance of developing mouth cancer by 17% (a fifth), compared to those who ate none.

Results showed that the vegetables also had a significant effect on other cancers:

  • the risk of kidney cancer was cut by nearly 32% (a third)
  • the risk of esophageal cancer by over 28% (a quarter)
  • colorectal and breast cancer by almost 17% (a fifth)

A study from 2007 in International Journal of Cancer showed that consuming cruciferous veggies decreased the risk of bladder cancer.

Doctor Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, hopes people understand how a poor diet can strongly impact one’s health, particularly when it comes to mouth cancer, and start to be more health conscious in general, not just with these vegetables.

Dr. Carter said:

“Around a third of all cases of oral cancer are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet. The Foundation recommends that people ensure they eat a healthy, balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

There is also increasing evidence that suggests Omega 3, found in fish and eggs, can help lower risks of oral cancer, as can foods high in fibre such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, nuts and seeds.”

There are currently more and more people being diagnosed with throat, mouth, and food pipe cancer. Scientists have been under the assumption that excessive drinking, smoking, and an unhealthy diet among young people is behind this, while new studies are showing a dramatic increase in oral cancer as a consequence of the human papilloma virus and oral sex.

He continued:

“We must not forget tobacco is still the most likely cause of mouth cancer, linked to around three-quarters of all cases of a disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK. With new cases occurring all the time, too many people still remain unaware of the risk smoking poses. Encouraging people to quit smoking and pursue a healthy lifestyle would reduce the risk of developing oral cancer.”

Throughout November, The Foundation runs Mouth Cancer Action Month, supported by Denplan and Simplyhealth, under the catchphrase ‘If in doubt, get checked out’.

The goal of the campaign is to spread knowledge of mouth cancer to the public, by helping them understand the risk factors that could cause the disease, and what symptoms they should be looking for. Certain signs in the mouth include red and white spots, abnormal bumps or swelling, and ulcers that last for longer than 3 weeks.

Written by Sarah Glynn