How Does Alcohol Affect Your Throat?
How to Lessen the Risk of Throat Cancer
Throat cancer is a major killer of people around the world every year. It strikes a wide variety of people from very different backgrounds. The major reason for this is that there are a number of important risk factors that cut across social, economic, and ethnic divisions. Fortunately, though, medical professionals and scientists have identified some of the biggest and most dangerous risk factors that cause throat cancer. With some determination and a little bit of work, you can drastically decrease your chance of being struck by this horrible affliction.
Eliminating Direct Risks
Avoid tobacco products.One of the biggest causes of throat cancer is tobacco use. As a result, eliminating tobacco from your life can definitely reduce the risk of throat cancer.
- Common tobacco products include: cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
- Long-term use of tobacco products can increase risk of throat cancer exponentially.
- Some studies have shown that even short-term use of tobacco products can increase risk of throat cancer substantially over individuals who have never used tobacco.
Drink less alcohol.Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can increase the chance of throat cancer. As a result, if you are a heavy drinker, you should try to decrease consumption as soon as possible. Consider:
- Even moderate alcohol consumption, such as more than one drink per day, may increase your chances of throat cancer.
- If you have questions about what is considered “excessive” consult your doctor. If you feel like you need to cut down or need and “eye opener” in the morning, then you may have a problem with alcohol.
- People who drink too much and use tobacco products have the highest risk level.
Practice safe and informed sex.Another major risk of throat cancer is the human papillomavirus infection (HPV). HPV is transmitted through vaginal and oral sex. In recent years, studies have shown that throat cancer is sometimes linked to HPV. In order to decrease your risk of throat cancer, practice safe and informed sex.
- If you are in a relationship with someone with HPV, avoid high-risk sexual activities (that may transmit HPV from the genitals to your mouth and throat) like oral sex.
- HPV can increase your risk of getting certain types of cancer (like throat cancer) by 22 times.
Manage your acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease.Acid reflux and related illnesses are another major risk factor for throat cancer. This is due to the fact that over long periods of time, acid splash back from the stomach causes skin cells in the throat and esophagus to change into cells that are more prone to cancer.
- Take over-the-counter medicine that helps reduce acid in your stomach.
- Consume a diet that does not aggravate your reflux. Avoid fried foods, high-fat foods, and citrus. Focus on most fresh fruits and vegetables, meats like chicken and fish, and other low-fat foods.
- Actively manage your reflux with your medical profession. Do not let long periods of bad reflux occur without consulting your doctor.
Maintain good nutrition.Poor nutrition and a lack of vitamins and other nutrients in your diet can increase your chances of throat cancer. This is because without certain vitamins and nutrients, your body will not have what it needs to fight off cancer cells in their early stages.
- Eat lots of green, leafy vegetables and consume a wide array of vegetables and fruits. These contain antioxidants which help to fight against cancer.
- Those who eat more fruits and vegetables have been show to have a lower risk of throat cancer than those who eat more meats and nitrates.
- Take vitamin supplements.
- Consult your physician about a proper diet if you have concerns.
Avoid Indirect Risks
Stay away from secondhand tobacco smoke.Secondhand smoke is another leading cause of throat cancer. While many people quit smoking or never smoke in the first place, they can still get cancer because they’ve had long term exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Encourage family and friends to quit smoking.
- Avoid sitting in smoking sections in public accommodations, like restaurants and sports stadiums.
- Disassociate with people who smoke around you despite your requests for them to not. After all, your health is more important than a friendship or association with someone who does not care about your well-being.
Pay attention to your work environment.Studies have identified a wide variety of chemicals that increase the chances of cancer, including throat cancer. As a result, you need to be vigilant in your work environment and pay attention to what chemicals and fumes you work with on a daily basis.
- If you work in an industrial setting, make sure your employer provides proper ventilation and other safety equipment.
- If you are in construction or a similar field, make sure you handle all materials in an appropriate fashion and follow government guidelines and regulations.
- If you work in a newly renovated building or an older building with potential environmental issues, be aware of any potential issues or hazards.
- Always be concerned and proactive. Do not trust that your employer is following the law or has your safety as their number one priority.
- If you have any specific concerns, review Material Safety Data Sheets for your certain products and substances provided on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website (www.osha.gov).
Maintain good dental health and oral hygiene.Poor dental health is another potential risk factor for throat cancer. Risks are increased considerably if you do not maintain proper oral hygiene because bacteria will build up in your mouth. In addition, poor dental health will increase risk of cavities and other health problems — some of which have been connected with throat cancer.
- Make sure to floss regularly — every day.
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned on an annual or semiannual basis.
Watch out for local environmental threats.Pollution in the environment around us is also a cause of throat cancer. As a result, make sure to be aware of your surroundings — where you live, work, and recreate.
- If you live near a coal power plant or an industry that contributes to air pollution, you may be at higher risk.
- If you live next to a major road or interstate, you could be at a higher risk.
- Talk to your local or state environmental monitoring agency for more information about potential risks in your area.
Learning About Throat Cancer
Learn about what causes throat cancer.Throat cancer is caused by a wide variety of factors in our environment. As a result, if you are seriously interested in lessening your risk of throat cancer, you need to understand potential causes and go out of your way to avoid them. Consider that throat cancer can be caused by:
- The use of tobacco products — this includes chewing and inhalation
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Poor nutrition
- Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Occupational exposure
- Genetic Factors
- Chewing betel nut
Identify symptoms particular to throat cancer.Throat cancer has numerous symptoms that can be confused with many other ailments. These symptoms are especially worrisome if combined with other symptoms that can signal throat cancer. As a result, it is important to stay vigilant about your health and to visit a doctor if you have any concerns or any new and unexplained medical problems. Major symptoms of throat cancer include:
- Voice changes, like hoarseness
- Problems swallowing
- Ear aches or pains
- Sore throat or sores or lumps in the throat
- Unexpected weight loss
Learn about treatment.Treatment for throat cancer varies and has come a long way over the last several decades. Different treatments come with different associated problems. As a result, you should consult your doctor and ask if you have any questions or concerns about treatment.
Video: Throat Cancer and HPV
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