A popular drink that can increase the risk of oral cancer has been labeled “carcinogenic” by the NHS.

There are many risk factors for oral cancer, including what you drink. If a drink is described as “carcinogenic”, it means that the drink contains chemicals that can damage the DNA in cells. The accumulation of DNA damage can lead to all types of tumors, including oral cancer.

According to the NHS, one popular carcinogenic drink is alcohol, which can be consumed in wines, beers, spirits and liquors.

The Mouth Cancer Foundation says that 30 percent of people with the condition “drink excessively.”

Excessive drinking in this context is regarded as “more than 21 units of alcohol per week”.

The charity elaborates: “That’s about seven large glasses of wine, or 11 cans of medium-strength lager.”

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Alcohol “dries out the skin of the mouth and makes it more porous” and is also “broken down by bacteria in the mouth to produce cancer-causing chemicals.”

Combining alcohol with smoking increases the risk of oral cancer by about 30 times.

This is because alcohol acts on the skin of the mouth, allowing tobacco toxins to pass through more easily.

And tobacco smoke “contains formaldehyde, a poisonous chemical similar to acetaldehyde, produced when alcohol breaks down.”

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mouth cancer

The tumor can develop on the surface of the tongue, on the inside of the cheeks, palate, lips, or gums.

Tumors can also develop in the sage-producing glands, tonsils, or trachea.

Symptoms of oral cancer may include:

  • Painful mouth sores that do not heal for several weeks.
  • Unexplained persistent lumps in the mouth or on the neck that don’t go away
  • Unexplained loosening of teeth or sockets that do not heal after extraction
  • Unexplained persistent numbness or strange sensation on the lip or tongue
  • Sometimes white or red patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue
  • Changes in speech such as lisp.

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The National Health Service recommends seeing a “physician or dentist if these symptoms do not improve within three weeks, especially if you drink.”

If oral cancer is diagnosed early, a “complete cure” is often possible in nine out of 10 cases.

Surgery is usually the primary treatment for the disease, but a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be required.

The National Health Service adds: “Overall, about six out of ten people with oral cancer will live at least five years after diagnosis, and many will live much longer without cancer coming back.”

In addition to drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, another risk factor for oral cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV).

There are over 100 different types of HPV that can be contracted through any type of sexual contact with another person who already has it.

“Most people will contract HPV at some point in their lives and their body will clear it naturally without treatment,” the NHS said in a statement.

“But some people infected with a high-risk type of HPV won’t be able to get rid of it.”

High-risk HPV is associated not only with oral cancer, but also with cancer of the cervix, anal canal, and penis.

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