British boozing blamed for rise in oral cancer rates

Aug 11, 2009

Britain has seen an "alarming" growth in oral cancer rates for people in their 40s, largely due to rising alcohol consumption, a leading British charity warned Tuesday.

New figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that the number of 40-somethings developing cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip and throat in Britain has gone up by 28 percent for men since the mid-1990s, and 24 percent for women.

While tobacco is the main risk factor for oral cancer, cancers caused by smoking often take up to 30 years to develop, so experts believe that the second biggest risk factor -- -- is the main culprit.

" has doubled since the 1950s and the trend we are now seeing is likely to be linked to Britain's continually rising drinking levels," said Hazel Nunn, health information manager at the charity.

Nunn described the latest figures, showing rates of oral cancers have increased by more than 45 percent since records began in 1975, as "really alarming".

"Around three quarters of oral cancers are thought to be caused by smoking and ," she said.

"Tobacco is, by far, the main risk factor for oral cancer... But for people in their 40s, it seems that other factors are also contributing to this jump in rates."

As well as alcohol, other factors include a diet low in and , and the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which also causes cervical cancer.

About 5,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancers in Britain each year, and about 1,800 people die of the disease.

Don Shenker, chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern, said many people were not aware of the connection between alcohol and cancer.

"While alcoholic liver disease remains the number one killer linked to alcohol, more and more people are suffering from oral cancers -- and record drinking levels have undeniably played a part," he said.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Death from cancer more likely in New Zealand

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Oral cancers linked to genes as well as lifestyle

May 26, 2008

A major international study published today in Nature Genetics provides the strongest evidence to date that genetics play a role in oral cancers – and further emphasises the part alcohol plays in developing ...

Alcohol and cancer: is drinking the new smoking?

Sep 26, 2007

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have clarified the link between alcohol consumption and the risk of head and neck cancers, showing that people who stop drinking can significantly reduce their ...

Researchers discover link between oral cancer and ethnicity

Nov 14, 2007

Clinicians from the USC School of Dentistry unravel connection between the incidence of oral cancer and race and ethnicity-- as part of first epidemiological study of oral cancer in California. Dr. Satish Kumar and Dr.Parish ...

Drinking and smoking don't boost HPV-related cancer risk

Nov 27, 2007

Heavy smoking and drinking are known to cause head and neck cancer. Infection with human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16), a common strain of the sexually-transmitted HPV virus, is another known risk factor for head and neck ...

Recommended for you

New enzyme targets for selective cancer therapies

36 minutes ago

Thanks to important discoveries in basic and clinical research and technological advances, the fight against cancer has mobilized into a complex offensive spanning multiple fronts.

User comments : 0