Among the many things we do here at our Southfield Dental office is check for oral cancer as part of your regular dental check-ups. We’re a first line of defense when it comes to oral cancer screening. Each year nearly 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are reported according to the CDC. Early detection, and of course prevention, can greatly decrease your odds of ever having this horrible disease. In other words, regular check-ups are more than just about fillings and dental cleanings; it could just possibly save your life!
New Research Indicates that Acid Reflux is a Risk Factor for Cancer of the Pharynx and Larynx
A Brown University study recently released major findings in their recent research on contributing factors to squamous cell carcinoma or cancer of the throat and vocal chords. Studying medication and heartburn incidence in 631 patients with throat and vocal cord cancer as well as 1,234 healthy subjects, researchers learned that participants who reported frequent heartburn had a 78 percent increased risk of developing oral cancer. In addition, taking antacids reduced their risk of oral cancer by 41 percent as compared to those who took no over-the-counter medication. These results confirm that antacids seem to have had a protective effect among those subjects with frequent heartburn. It also confirms that people suffering from heartburn may be at an increased risk for throat and vocal cord cancer even if they do not drink alcohol or smoke. Both smoking and alcohol abuse are two well-known risk factors for oral cancer.
In a unique twist of events, scientists also found that prescription medications like Prilosec, or Nexium did not provide the same protection. While the study revealed an association between cancer of the throat and vocal cords and heartburn, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. However limited this Brown University study is, it certainly opens the door for further studies into why antacids worked to reduce the risk of larynx and pharynx cancers. Other potential research that may arise from these initial results is whether or not antacids make a difference in reducing cancer of the esophagus, and why antacids proved more effective than other prescriptions.
While Acid Reflux may be an independent risk factor to some oral cancers, what cannot be disputed is that maintaining good overall health can significantly reduce your risk for certain diseases. Smoking is a risk factor for oral cancer, so if you smoke you owe it to yourself to quit. Other risk factors include excessive use of alcohol. We seem to minimize this risk factor simply limiting alcohol intake by having no more than one alcoholic drink per day if you’re a woman and no more than two if you’re a man. Obviously we can’t control everything in our lives, we can give ourselves a fighting chance against oral cancer by avoiding risky behaviors. As science has proven over and over again, healthy habits like seeing your dentist twice a year for oral cancer screenings can minimize our risks.
At our Southfield location, we want to make you look and feel better, which is why we’re able to offer a safe and relaxed, non-judgmental and pain-free experience at every dental visit. Every dental appointment is confidential and we take all the time we need to understand your concerns and answer all questions. We give of ourselves because our goal is happy and healthy patients, and when you feel good, we feel good!
Thanks for reading,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD