Don't risk oral cancer through tobacco use


For World No Tobacco Day this Sunday (May 31) the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is sending an alert to tobacco users of all ages – with oral cancer a known risk of tobacco use, it's never too late to quit.

Around 2.6 million Australian adults or nearly 14% of over 18s are daily smokers. Smoking  claims the lives of 15,500 Aussies every year and remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease here.*

Giving up now significantly lengthens your life: statistics from an Oral Oncology study** found that stopping smoking contributes to reducing the risk of developing oral cancer, with a 35% reduction in risk within 1 to 4 years and 80% reduction of risk by 20 years, reaching the level of lifelong non-smokers.

"Stopping smoking even after being diagnosed with oral cancer significantly improves the response to cancer treatment, and reduces the risk of other new cancers developing," said Dr Sue-Ching Yeoh, an Oral Medicine Specialist at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and on the ADA's Dental Therapeutics Committee.

However it's not just cigarettes causing oral cancers.

"When we talk about tobacco  most people think about cigarettes. But across Australia there are a whole range of other ways people take in tobacco, and the use of smokeless tobacco products such as moist snuff is increasing.

"Many people don't realise that the nicotine content of 8-10 chews/dips per day of smokeless tobacco is equivalent to smoking 30 to 40 cigarettes per day.

"In fact smokeless tobacco is thought to be more addictive than cigarettes due to the higher nicotine levels in these products.

"Also, shisha or waterpipes have become quite accessible in Australia. These products may also contain nicotine, and there's a common misconception that inhaling smoke that has been passed through water is less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

"Unfortunately this is not the case. People who use waterpipes tend to take deep puffs, and smoke for a longer session, making the overall amount of smoke inhaled significantly higher than if they were to smoke a cigarette."

Whether it's smoking cigarettes, cigars or cigarillos, chewing betel quid, smoking a shisha, having a joint mixed with tobacco, chewing tobacco, or using smokeless tobacco with products like snuff taken nasally or orally, tobacco's multifarious harms include:

·         Oral cancer and oral potentially malignant disorders such as leukoplakia (white patches on the soft tissue inside the mouth) or erythroplakia (red patches). Tobacco use significantly increases the risk of these diseases developing. Treatment usually involves surgery to cut out the affected areas of the mouth, and often this is followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. Speech, eating and appearance are almost always affected.

·         Heart disease and stroke, chest and lung illnesses, including lung cancer and stomach ulcers.

·         Other oral lesions – smoker's melanosis (dark brown patches on the soft lining of the mouth), smoker's palate (white lesions on the roof of the mouth) and black hairy tongue (thick, dark hair-like appearance on the top surface of the tongue).

·         Other oral health by products include periodontal or gum disease which if left untreated can result in tooth loss, increased rates of dental implant failure, impaired and delayed wound healing after oral surgical procedures, halitosis and changes in taste and smell.

"The harmful effects of tobacco use, whether this is smoked, or through various smokeless products, are very well documented and clear," said Dr Yeoh.

"Australians need to take this message seriously. Seek advice and help. Take steps to reduce and quit smoking. It's about  improving your health, and the health of the people around you."

Dentists are trained to spot the early signs of cancer in the mouth, so if you have any concerns or if your regular review is overdue due to Covid-19, make a time to go and see your dentist.

Most of the restrictions around access to dental services have been lifted, though patients are still being carefully screened for signs of illness. If you don't have a dentist, find one in your area at the ADA's Find a Dentist facility here

Signs of oral cancer to look out for, warns Dr Yeoh, include an ulcer or sore lasting longer than two weeks, possibly with a raised border, any firm lump, patches of red, white or mixed colour on the soft lining of the mouth, an altered sensation in the mouth especially with progressive numbness. However some early cancers may not cause any symptoms, she added.

For advice on ways to give up tobacco use, call the national Quitline on 13 78 48.


**Living with oral cancer: Epidemiology with particular reference to prevalence and life-style changes that influence survival. Saman Warnakulasuriya. Department of Oral Medicine and Pathology, King's College Dental Institute, UK.

Snuff is finely ground tobacco purchased moist or dry. It is available loose, in dissolvable lozenges or strips, or in tea bag-like sachets. Moist snuff is placed between the user's cheek and gums or the upper or lower lip allowing nicotine to be absorbed through the oral mucosa. Dry snuff can be inhaled into the nose.  

Nicotine makes up 5% of the tobacco plant. Nicotine is not itself considered to be carcinogenic, however it is toxic and addictive. This addiction promotes ongoing use of tobacco products, which contain carcinogens, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrosamines and aromatic amines, and also some weak carcinogens such as acetaldehyde.

Community Health & Wellness Lifestyle

Privately Submitted Article or Event :
See Above Article or Event for Address, Sunshine Coast Wide
Privately Submitted Article or Event
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Original NAIDOC Week a chance to reflect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health 10 July 2020 | The National Rural Health Alliance, the peak body for rural health in Australia, acknowledged the original dates for NAIDOC Week, which was to run from 5-12 July 2020 but has been postponed due to COVID-19. More information...
Chief Allied Health Officer appointment good news for rural health 09 July 2020 | The National Rural Health Alliance, the peak body for rural health in Australia, said that the appointment of Dr Anne-marie Boxall as the Australian Government's new Chief Allied Health Officer was good news for... More information...
Camping proves popular for families this school holidays, providing welcome relief to regional tourism 07 July 2020 | Tourism operators and regional Australia benefit from families choosing camping this school holidays. More information...
Business advice needed to restore growth, warn accounting bodies 07 July 2020 | Australia's major professional accounting bodies CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand have called for the Government to give businesses better access to the advice they need to recover... More information...
Climate change like a nuclear-armed enemy, ex-fire chiefs tell Royal Commission 06 July 2020 | Providing state personnel to support local volunteers in bushfire-affected communities; stronger national coordination of emergency management responses; and ongoing support for strategic bushfire research were... More information...
Price freeze to help keep drink prices low 05 July 2020 | A price freeze on the amount drink manufacturers pay into Queensland's container refund scheme will help keep packaged drink prices stable. More information...
Social media needs to grow up and be transparent about infodemic 06 July 2020 | Social media needs to be compelled to be transparent about the extent of its misinformation problem, particularly when it comes to false information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, Responsible Technology... More information...
Swimart Currimundi gifts special needs cargo bike to local school 24 June 2020 | Inclusive design helps Currimundi Special School students develop essential life skills. More information...
Queensland Airbnb guests hit the road to support Sunshine Coast tourism industry 02 July 2020 | Cafes, shops and restaurants across the Sunshine Coast are welcoming Airbnb guests back through their doors as Queenslanders drive a domestic tourism resurgence in their own backyard. More information...
Almost half a million Australians have wiped out their super savings 02 July 2020 | Hundreds of thousands of young Australians have wiped out their retirement balances under the government's early release of super scheme, heightening fears the scheme could lead to a future generation left lang... More information...

comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service