Tobacco products contain carcinogens, or chemicals that can cause cancer. Although smoking carries the greatest risk, smokeless tobacco products can also lead to oral cancer.
This article will explore the relationship between tobacco and oral cancer.
We also discuss the first signs of oral cancer, the types of products with the biggest risk, and quitting smoking.
Finally, the article looks at some of the other causes of oral cancer.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Oral cancer, or mouth cancer, affects around
People who consume tobacco products have an
A person who smokes cigarettes is about 5–6 times more likely to develop oral cancer than someone who does not. The longer a person uses tobacco products, the greater their oral cancer risk.
Toxic chemicals used in tobacco products can lead to cancer. For example, carcinogens in tobacco smoke
- radioactive substances
- hydrogen cyanide
The carcinogens in tobacco products can damage DNA. Cells with damaged DNA may begin to spread uncontrollably throughout the body.
As tobacco carcinogens enter the body through the mouth, cancer
The first signs of oral cancer
- jaw pain or swelling
- mouth or lip sores that do not go away
- lumps around the cheeks, mouth, or lips
- red or white patches in the mouth
- sore throat
- lingering mouth pain
- difficulty swallowing or chewing
- numbness in or around the mouth
- loss of tongue or jaw mobility
Although these symptoms can indicate oral cancer, they may be due to another condition. People experiencing these symptoms should visit a doctor for a full evaluation. This may include a physical exam, imaging tests, and a biopsy.
Smoking tobacco products carry the highest risk of developing oral cancer. One study found that
People who smoke and consume alcohol have an even greater chance of getting this form of cancer. Researchers estimate that these people are
Smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and snuff also contain carcinogens. Most of these products contain large amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). These TSNAs can cause cancer of the lungs, nasal tract, mouth, and esophagus.
A recent analysis noted that people who used smokeless tobacco products had around a
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have become increasingly popular in recent years. Although companies market them as
Researchers have found that people who smoke e-cigarettes can also experience damage to their DNA. E-cigarettes may present
Although quitting tobacco can present challenges, it is the best way to support long-term health. Quitting tobacco
- improved heart health
- increased lifespan
- reduced risk of many chronic diseases
Keeping the reasons for quitting in mind can be a powerful tool. A support network of friends, family, and medical professionals can make all the difference. Several tips that may also be helpful include:
- setting reachable goals and celebrating each milestone
- managing stress and emotions throughout the quitting journey
- focusing on what is motivating the decision to quit
- improving confidence and practicing positive self-talk
A person looking to quit tobacco may benefit from support groups or one-on-one therapy sessions. They
Although tobacco products increase the risk of oral cancer, other risk factors exist. Additional causes of oral cancer
- the Epstein-Barr virus
- family history of oral cancer
- human papillomavirus
- gum disease
- deficient oral hygiene
There are many causes and risk factors that have links to oral cancer. People who believe they may be at risk of developing it should visit a medical professional to learn more.
Other factors that
- drinking alcohol
- being overweight
- having certain infections
- having poor nutrition
- betel nut chewing
Tobacco products contain harmful chemicals that may lead to oral cancer. Although smoking carries the greatest cancer risk, smokeless tobacco products can also increase the chance of developing oral cancer.
Other factors, including certain viral infections or poor oral hygiene, also carry a heightened oral cancer risk.
Quitting tobacco products can reduce the risk of oral cancer and many other health conditions. With the right tools and a good support network, quitting tobacco is the first step to better health.