Oral Cancer Risk Factors

Oral cancer can develop in anybody but there are many factors that might increase your chances of getting a disease. As with all other types of cancers, the risk of getting oral cancer grow with age.

Let us read in more detail about oral cancer risk factors:

Various general factors are amongst potential risk factors for oral cancer.

  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop oral cancer as well as Oropharyngeal cancer when compared to women. This difference may be attributed to habits like: smoking, alcohol, chewing Tobacco etc.
  • Age: The average age of getting oral cancer is over the age of 55. Most of the individuals lying between
  • Ultraviolet light: Prolonged exposure to radiation either from industrial sources or from sunlight can aggravate the chances of getting skin cancer as well as Oral Cancer.
  • Bad nutrition choices: Many studies have been conducted that have found a positive correlation between diets that are low in nutrients and high in toxins.


Many genetic conditions predispose an individual to oral cancer.

  • Genetic syndromes: There are many genetic conditions like chromosomal mutations and certain syndromes that put some people at a higher risk of developing oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Two most common conditions that predispose individuals to getting Oral cancer are the following:
  1. Fanconi anemia: This occurs as a multiple gene abnormality. These genetic abnormalities are inherited by babies. Common features of Fanconi’s anemia are: leukemia or aplastic anemia. The chances of developing oral cancer in people with Fanconi’s anemia are nearly 500 times more than others.
  2. Dyskeratosis congenita: This genetic syndrome might be responsible for causing aplastic anemia, high risk of getting oral cancers and throat cancers.


Substance abuse is one of the most common potential risk factors for oral cancer.

  • Smoking or chewing Tobacco: Most of the cases of cancers of oral cavity and oropharynx happen as a result of prolonged use of Cigarettes, chewing tobacco or snuffing. The more prolonged the use and higher the frequency of tobacco exposure, more are the chances of developing Cancer.
  • Consuming Alcohol: Nearly 70% of the cases diagnosed with oral cancers are alcohol drinkers. This risk increases even more if a person smokes as well as drinks.
  • Use of Betel quid, Supari, Khaini and gutka: All of these substances are associated with malignant changes of oral mucosa.


Many health conditions, pre malignancies and infections are potential risk factors for oral cancer.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: Human papilloma viruses have been associated with a variety of Cancers in The most common ones, being: cervical cancer, oral and oropharyngeal cancers.
  • Suppressed Immune system: Taking long-term immunosuppressive drugs has been linked with higher risk of oral cancer. The conditions for which immune-suppression might be required are: prevention of transplant rejection, treating autoimmune diseases etc.
  • Lichen planus and Oral submucous fibrosis: Lichen Planus and OSMF are both premalignant conditions. They can be attributed to use of Tobacco, Supari etc as well as various other factors like stress and bad nutrition.


In recent years, there have been several studies that are associated with heightened risk of developing oral cancer. These concerns are controversial, though

  • Mouthwash: Use of mouthwashes that have a high percentage of alcohol has been suspected to be a reason behind oral and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Use of Fluoridated toothpastes: Various studies have listed Fluoride to be amongst the “Top Ten Common Household Toxins”. Fluoride is believed to be “neurotoxic and potentially tumorigenic if swallowed.”Considering that some amount of toothpaste is swallowed on daily basis, this concept came forth.
  • Irritation from ill-fitting dentures: Poorly fitting dentures can cause constant mucosal irritation and also tend to accumulate substances that are known to cause oral cancer, such as alcohol and tobacco.Therefore, getting the fit of dentures regularly is recommended.

These were some of the potential risk factors for Oral Cancer.

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