While no one can necessarily prevent cancer from happening, however with most cancers like oral, head, and neck cancers, there are things you can do or not do to reduce your risk:
- Quit Smoking: After only five years of kicking smoking to the curb, your risk of oral cancer is cut down to half of that of a current smoker.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption: Did you know that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is the second largest risk factor for oral cancer? Limit your drinks to once or twice per day.
- HPV Vaccine: HPV is the number one cause of oropharyngeal cancer (cancer located at the back of the mouth and throat). HPV can also cause a small number of oral cavity cancers as well.
- Get Regular Checkups: Oral health professionals, such as oral surgeons (like Dr. Davis) and dentists are the second line of defense (following you) in terms of screening for oral cancer. Ensure to ask any questions during your exam and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
- Eat Well & Exercise: Keeping a healthy diet and exercising at least 30 minutes every day is essential for maintaining good health. Incorporating good habits like eating well and living an active lifestyle allow for long lasting positive results.
- Reduce Stress with more Sleep: A lack of sleep and associated stress contribute to inflammation which has long been recognized as a player in the cancer game. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and do things that will minimize your stress levels as much as possible.
- Self-Exams: Lastly, be an advocate for your own health by regularly examining your mouth with a mirror and flashlight. Watch out for any unusual bumps, patches, discoloring, etc.
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