There are several types of cancers that are not known to many but are just as serious as the other common cancers like the breast cancer, prostate cancer and even the cervical cancer. Head and neck cancers may be new to you but they have been in existence for just as long as the other common types of cancer it’s only that most people refer to this group by the identity of the individual cancers in the group. Today, head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the United States alone. These cancers are nearly twice as common among men as they are among women. Head and neck cancers are also diagnosed more often among people over age 50 than they are among younger people but indulgence in behaviors that might increase your risk of getting head and neck cancers begin earlier.
There are many causes of head and neck cancer but alcohol and smoking are the biggest culprits. This doesn’t come as a surprise as alcohol and smoking have been known to be carcinogenic. Researchers of the past have long been able to make it known that about 75 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by a combination of alcohol and tobacco use. Not long ago, two large studies have reviewed patterns of alcohol and tobacco use in people with cancer of the mouth, throat, and larynx, the head and neck cancers most likely to be caused by smoking and drinking.
Of these studies, one study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and another was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Both studies assembled data from previous case-controlled studies and included myriads of cases of laryngeal, pharyngeal, and oral cancers matched against normal controls. The reported findings from these studies shed some light on just how alcohol and tobacco alone or in combination can influence the development of the head and neck cancers. Cancer and smoking to most seem synonymous but lately researchers have been able to establish links between cancers and alcohol drinking too. Here are some of the findings from these two studies findings.
- Smoking lightly for many years increases the risk of head and neck cancer more than smoking heavily for only a few years.
- Drinking heavily for a few years increases the risk of head and neck cancer more than drinking moderately for many years.
- Smoking is most strongly associated with laryngeal cancer.
- Just smoking increases the risk of head and neck cancer substantially and the risk goes up with the frequency and duration of smoking.
- Just drinking only increases the risk of head and neck cancer if you have three or more drinks a day.
“These studies are interesting but the most important thing for people to know is that smoking and drinking each increase your risk of head and neck cancer and smoking and drinking together multiply your risk. That means that the cumulative effect is worse than just adding the two risk factors together,” warns Tamer Ghanem, MD, PhD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
As stated earlier, both alcohol and tobacco are known to be carcinogenic. The most known cause of cancer is DNA alteration which leads to gene mutation. Alcohol is full of these carcinogens that once inside the body triggers changes in the DNA make up. Equally tobacco is made up of a cocktail of many toxins that when consumed causes a series of DNA alterations.
Alcohol alone has been shown to cause changes in the cells of the oral mucosa and may damage head and neck cell DNA. This finding now points out to the reality that alcohol abuse alone even without the combination with cigarette smoking is enough to cause the head and neck cancers.
These reports also showed that in a tobacco smoke there are more than 60 are carcinogenic chemicals that does more harm than good when inhaled.
Alcohol may act as a solvent, making it easier for carcinogens in tobacco to enter head and neck cells. This may explain that in combination the effects of smoking and drinking of alcohol can be adverse and escalate the risk of head and neck cancers catching up with the smoker.
From these study findings we can say that people who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk of developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone. However it is safe to quit using alcohol even if you are not a smoker as these two studies plus other earlier ones have been able to establish and cement the fact that alcohol drinking alone is enough to cause DNA alterations which eventually leads to cancers of the Head and neck.
Some common symptoms of Head and neck cancers
Some of these symptoms may include swollen Pharynx, breathing problems, a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty in swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice. When you find yourself suffering from these symptoms that may also be same as those people suffer when sick of colds and fever it is good to check with a doctor before it’s too late.
Finally, Drug abuse, addiction and independence are problems that people grapple with every day. These problems need to be treated effectively through integrative medicine. Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) is an expert at this. Call her on (843) 213-1480 for help.