Gina Liggio Maestri, DDS

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Myth or Fact: Can Alcohol & Tobacco Cause Mouth Disease or Oral Cancer?

Hannah Johnson - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 


Myth or Fact: Could alcohol and tobacco consumption be the cause of mouth disease or even oral cancer?

Scientists have been saying for years now that tobacco products are proven to increase the risk of oral cancer, but what role does alcohol play in contributing to the risk of mouth disease and mouth cancer? After ongoing and intensive research, scientists now believe that alcohol and tobacco synergistically interact with one another, increasing each other’s harmful effects. Alcohol abuse, defined as more than 21 standard drinks in one week, is said to be the second largest risk factor for the development of oral cancer.

Let’s breakdown the overall effect that alcohol and tobacco have on a person’s mouth and how they work synergistically:

Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on a person’s cell walls which enhances tobacco carcinogens, a substance with the ability to cause cancer in living tissue, in mouth tissue. Additionally, heavy alcohol consumption can reduce the body’s natural ability to use antioxidants to prevent and fight off the formation of cancer cells.

Although more research is being conducted on alcohol and tobacco consumption and their relationship to oral cancer, it is safe to say that eliminating the use of tobacco products and drinking in moderation will reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.




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