Eating green leafy vegetables ‘significantly lowers the risk’ of oral cancer among women who smoke, a recent study has revealed.
The research showed for every one serving of green leafy vegetables, the risk of oral cancer for current women smokers is reduced compared to those who have given up or never smoked.
Whilst larger studies are required to examine for a moderate reduction in risk, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, expressed a need to discover the true extent diet can play in reducing the risk of oral cancer.
Dr Carter said: ‘Around a third of all cases of oral cancer are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet. The Foundation recommends that people ensure they eat a healthy, balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables. There is also increasing evidence that suggests omega 3, found in fish and eggs, can help lower risks of oral cancer, as can foods high in fibre such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, nuts and seeds.
‘We must not forget tobacco is still the most likely cause of mouth cancer, linked to around three-quarters of all cases of a disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK. With new cases occurring all the time, many people still remain unaware of the risk smoking poses.
‘Encouraging people to quit smoking and pursue a healthy lifestyle would reduce the risk of developing oral cancer.’
The Foundation runs Mouth Cancer Action Month throughout November under the tagline ‘If in doubt, get checked out’.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer among the public and encourage people to visit their dentist or doctor for regular check-ups.
Mouth cancer is twice more common in men than in women, though an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with the disease.
Previously, the disease has been five times more common in men than women, a fact Dr Carter believes is lifestyle related.
Dr Carter said: ‘The number of young people being diagnosed with mouth, throat and food pipe cancer is increasing all the time. Researchers believe this is due to excessive smoking, drinking and an unhealthy diet among the young, while new research shows a dramatic rise in oral cancer as a result of the human papilloma virus and oral sex.’