Among the people needing dental reconstructive surgery at the Shoal Creek Prosthodontic Group are those battling oral cancer. Many people are aware that tobacco use is a major risk factor for oral cancer, and there is growing awareness that HPV is linked to cancer in the oropharynx. But the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently made news by announcing that alcohol on its own is also a potent risk factor.
The exact mechanism by which alcohol leads to oral cancer has long been debated. One theory holds that its chemical composition breaks down mouth tissue, and when the tissue rebuilds, its DNA may be compromised, causing tumors to develop. It is known with certainty, however, that smoking and drinking alcohol together massively increase the risk of oral cancer. But the new study from the ASCO found that even moderate or light alcohol use alone increases the risk. This is true regardless of the type of alcohol consumed, although people who drink heavily are still at much greater risk than moderate and light drinkers.
The good news is that the ASCO also found that ceasing use of alcohol lowers the risk of oral cancer in the upper aerodigestive tract (which includes the mouth and throat). In the long term, the risk of oral cancer in people who quit drinking declined to the level of people who never drank.
Frederick Shaw, DDS, operates the Shoal Creek Prosthodontic Group at 1500 W 38th Street, Suite 34, Austin, Texas, 78731. To schedule an appointment, call 512-451-7491 or visit FrederickShawDDS.com and fill out a contact form.