Healthy smiles are always on display—when you laugh, pose for a photo, or just can’t seem to contain your joy. For women, a brilliant smile is important not only because it showcases your beauty. Smiles also help tell the world that you’re happy, healthy, and confident.
However, a hidden risk to your health may be more common than we thought. A new study reports that “while oral cancer is common in both men and women, statistics show that there is an increased rate of women at risk for getting the disease from ages 55 to
62.” Equipped with the knowledge of the risks to female smokers, the most important steps you can take are to learn the facts and how to protect yourself.
Oral Cancer Screenings and Preventative Care
Let’s start with the obvious culprit: tobacco. According to a 10-year study conducted in Ireland, Irish women “had more cases of oral cancer because of tobacco smoking.” You’ve heard it before, but unfortunately, the facts haven’t changed. The unsettling truth is that female smokers are at risk for oral cancer at higher numbers. While difficult to eliminate, taking steps toward quitting the habit can be the first line of defense in protecting your oral and overall wellness.
Oral cancer can manifest in a number of ways. While it usually takes place in the throat, cheeks, gums, and lips, tumors can also invade the floor of the mouth, buccal mucosa, and mucosal surface of the lip. These nasty biters have also been found in the retromolar triangle, hard palate, alveolus, and anterior two-thirds of the tongue.
This information may be overwhelming, so it’s important to talk to your dentist about getting a screening for oral cancer.
Signals to Other Important Areas of Your Health
In addition to keeping your smile radiant, your oral health can be an important indicator of other areas that may be impacted.
Studies from the CDC have shown a strong association between oral cancer and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which can be sexually transmitted. Again, the risks are even greater for female smokers. Viruses and fungi that heavy smokers contract from tobacco are often identified as triggers of oral cancer. Areas of the mouth associated with HPV are directly linked to the development of the disease.
This doesn’t mean that you should abstain from living and enjoying your life. However, for a long healthy life, make lifestyle choices based on habits that keep your body strong, fit, and disease-free.
Early Detection Makes for a Great Start
To quote philosopher Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power.” Nothing puts you at the wheel quite like learning the facts. Early detection not only gives you the opportunity to know your status early-on, but it also enables you to seek treatment before the issue worsens.
Empower yourself with the tools of how to prevent oral cancer from spreading, learn the recommended methods of tobacco reduction, get referrals for HPV screenings, and identify—with the help of your dentist—other risks of oral cancer to help you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile.
If you feel you are at risk for oral cancer, it’s time to get proactive about your health. Contact us today for your annual cancer screening consultation.