Are you a coffee drinker? The effect of coffee on oral health has long been debated. However, a recent study shows that coffee may be an affordable dental care option as it may reduce the risk of oral cancer.
The study was led by Janet Hildebrand and her colleagues from the American Cancer Society. The researchers used data from a previous study, Cancer Prevention Study II, which began in 1982. It recorded lifestyle and health information on 968,432 men and women, including facts such as the amount of tea and coffee consumption of each individual. None had cancer when the study began, but over a period of 26 years, 868 had died from oral or pharyngeal cancer.
The researchers analyzed the tea and coffee consumption numbers in relation to the deaths. They discovered that those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 49% lower risk of dying from oral or pharyngeal cancer than those who drank less than four cups or none at all. There was no link found with tea, and only an insignificant link with decaf coffee. The study was not affected by gender, or tobacco or alcohol use.
While it looks like drinking more coffee may help prevent cancer, the researchers warn that their study needs further research. For now, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to drink more coffee but rather serve as good news for coffee drinkers.
Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer
Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth, and pharyngeal cancer is cancer of the throat. Both are rarely diagnosed in the early stages. This is because the symptoms often don’t show up until the cancer is advanced. The symptoms may also be mistaken for minor, affordable dental problems such as a toothache. However, oral cancer is anything but minor and affordable.
Oral cancer can be diagnosed by a dentist during a routine dental checkup. Many dentists recommend looking at your mouth in the mirror once a month to check for symptoms.
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. If you don’t have affordable dental care, a discount plan or insurance may be able to help. Either way, a biannual checkup is much cheaper than cancer treatment and its importance shouldn’t be taken lightly. To find out if you’re at risk for oral cancer or for more information, talk to your dentist.