How to prevent head and neck cancer

How to prevent head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancers are cancers in the larynx, throat, lips, mouth, nose and salivary glands.

Every year in the US, there are more than 60,000 people develop these cancers. The cancers can strongly affect one’s daily functions, such as speaking and swallowing.

Some unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, like heavy alcohol drinking and smoking tobacco, can increase the risk of head and neck cancers.

In addition, infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) may also increase the cancer risk.

In a recent article, researchers from University of Florida offers four tips to reduce the risk of head and neck cancer.

First, quit smoking and change drinking habit.

According to research, tobacco is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancer, and drinking alcohol is the second largest risk factor.

The two things together can account for 85% of head and neck cancers. People who quit smoking after age of 50 can reduce their cancer risk.

Second, get the HPV vaccine.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. Every year 14 million people are infected.

HPV is commonly associated with high risk of cervical cancer, but recent research shows that HPV inflection is linked to higher risk of head and neck cancer.

Researchers suggest that young women through age 26 and young men through age 21 should get the vaccine if they have not get it.

Third, reduce sun exposure.

Prolonged sun exposure is linked to cancer in the lip area. Lip cancer is a type of oral cancer and most prevalent in men.

People who work outside under direct sunlight should pay more attention to the cancer risk. If possible, they should use a sunscreen lip balm or wear a hat while working outside.

Fourth, maintain good oral hygiene.

One common risk factor for oral cancer is irregular tooth brush and infrequent dental care.

Taking care of your oral hygiene, such as brushing teeth and flossing after each meal, can help reduce cancer risk. It may also help protect you from gum disease, cavities, broken teeth and fillings.

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