Alcohol is responsible for a rise in the rate of oral cancers

In the past decade cancers of the tongue, mouth, lip and throat have increased by 26% among forty-somethings.

According to Cancer Research UK, the consumption of alcohol has doubled since the 1950s and, alongside smoking, is the most likely cause. Each year around 1,800 people in the UK die from these types of cancer and 5,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

In an interview with the BBC, the charity's health information manager Hazel Nunn said: "These latest figures are really alarming.

"Around three-quarters of oral cancers are thought to be caused by smoking and drinking alcohol.

"Tobacco is, by far, the main risk factor for oral cancer, so it's important that we keep encouraging people to give up and think about new ways to stop people taking it up in the first place.

"But for people in their 40s, it seems that other factors are also contributing to this jump in oral cancer rates.

"Alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1950s and the trend we are now seeing is likely to be linked to Britain's continually rising drinking levels."

If diagnosed sufficiently early oral cancer can often be treated successfully. Oral cancer is usually accompanied by sores, ulcers and/or red or white patches in the mouth that last longer than three weeks, together with unexplained pain in the mouth or ear.

Many people are not aware of the connection between alcohol and cancer, according to Alcohol Concern, who advocate the introduction of  tobacco-style health warnings on alcohol. 

The BBC also reported that Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "The really lethal cocktail is drinking strong spirits and smoking - a carcinogenic double whammy for the delicate lining of the mouth and throat. My advice is if you drink, don't smoke - and if you must smoke, avoid spirits."


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