The Science Behind Oral Cancer
Can drinking coffee really help prevent oral cancer? What about different types of foods? Numerous studies have been published that claim certain foods and drinks can prevent oral cancer but when it comes to a disease that will affect 43,250 people this year, it’s important to get the facts.
Oral or mouth cancer, and other head and neck cancers, occur when there is a problem with the lifecycle of a normal, healthy cell. Cells are supposed to grow and divide into new cells as your body needs them but when this process goes wrong, your body over produces cells. These extra cells can cause a tumor to form. Depending on the type of cells in the tumor, it could be cancerous or benign.
Some studies may say they have proof that a specific food or drink helps to prevent mouth cancer but in reality the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid certain risk factors like smoking and drinking. Drinking in excess accompanied by smoking makes you highly susceptible to the disease and should be avoided.
Most oral cancers start in the tongue in what are called the flat cells and they can spread to other parts of the body if they aren’t caught early (in doctor lingo, cancer of these flat cells is called squamous cell carcinoma). Interestingly, when these oral cancer cells spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, they are still considered oral cancer cells rather than lung cancer cells. Where these abnormal cancer cells begin is what they will always be referred to as, regardless of where they spread.
Doctors still don’t know why one person gets oral cancer while another person does not, but it is important to note that oral cancer is NOT contagious. Avoiding risk factors and eating healthy is key to preventing oral cancer.