cancer risk main incentive for leading a healthier lifestyleCancer risk is the number one incentive given for quitting smoking and heavy drinking, new research shows.

Half (50%) of smokers would quit cigarettes if they knew the increased risk of mouth cancer that it causes.

While 40% of heavy drinkers would drop their alcohol consumption if they knew the increased risks.

‘Despite quitting both smoking and booze nearly a decade ago, I was diagnosed with mouth cancer,’ ex-smoker, Stuart Caplan, said.

‘I had a 20% chance of surviving a year, even with surgery.

‘Luckily, I’ve beaten the odds.

‘I had two-thirds of my tongue removed, as well as many of the muscles and tissue around my head and neck.

‘Successful surgery meant the cancer disappeared.

‘However, I’m still having to deal with the after-effects today, including re-learning to eat and talk.

‘My message is please avoid any damaging lifestyle choices which can enhance your risk, such as smoking and alcohol.

‘I used to smoke and drink, but I’m now teetotal.’

Cancer risk

More than a third (38%) of smokers are unaware smoking increases their oral cancer risks.

While 50% of heavy drinkers don’t realise alcohol also increases cancer risks too.

Smoking and alcohol consumption are the two biggest contributors to oral cancer and consuming both trebles the cancer risk.

‘If you are going to do one thing for Mouth Cancer Action Month, make sure you know the basics,’ Catherine Rutland, head dental officer at Simplyhealth, who carried out the survey with the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘Speak to the dental team about lifestyle habits such as alcohol consumption, diet and smoking.

‘Ask about the risks and symptoms of mouth cancer.

‘By doing this, you give yourself the best possible chance of preventing mouth cancer or spotting it at the earliest stage.’

Festive drinking

More than half (52%) of people polled admit they will drink a lot more during the festive period.

Under the influence of alcohol, 9% of Brits skip brushing teeth and 9% also smoke, the Oral Health Foundation says.

‘With the holiday season is coming up, there is no time like the present to make a change,’ Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘By quitting tobacco and cutting your alcohol use, you will see benefits to your oral health.

‘Your general health and wellbeing will improve too.

‘This decision might not only save your life but could also add years onto it.’