5 Things Heavy Drinkers Need To Know About Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Drinking a beer or a glass of wine after a long day of work can help you relax, but if you tend to overdo it, you may be putting yourself at risk of more than just a hangover. People who regularly drink a lot of alcohol are at risk of oral cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma. Here are five things you need to know about this type of cancer.
What is squamous cell carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of oral cancer. About 90% of all oral cancer diagnoses are squamous cell carcinoma. This cancer affects your squamous cells, the flat cells that line the inside of your mouth. This type of cancer has a high death rate because people often don't get diagnosed until the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.
What are the signs of this cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma can present in many different ways. You may notice that you have a sore in your mouth that doesn't heal, or a bump on the inside of your mouth. This cancer can also look like a red or white patch.
As the cancer advances, it can cause other problems, too. You may notice that your teeth feel loose or that your dentures don't fit as well as they used to. You may also have jaw pain or trouble swallowing. If you notice any changes inside your mouth, you should visit your dentist for a checkup. The changes may be nothing, but they could also be squamous cell carcinoma, and like all cancers, it's best to find and treat it early.
How does alcohol cause this cancer?
Drinking alcohol is a major risk factor for oral cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma. This is the case for a few different reasons. When your body breaks down alcoholic drinks, a toxic by-product called acetaldehyde is produced. Acetaldehyde damages your DNA, the material that comprises your genes, and by doing so, seems to increase cancer risk.
Alcohol can also make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C, among others. These vitamins seem to have an association with cancer risk, so not being able to absorb them may increase your risk.
What is the definition of heavy drinking?
The definition of heavy drinking is a lot lower than you might expect. According to federal government guidelines, you're a heavy drinker if any of these situations apply to you:
- If you're a woman and drink more than three drinks in a single day;
- If you're a woman and drink more than seven drinks a week;
- If you're a man and have more than four drinks in a single day;
- If you're a man and consume more than 14 drinks in a week.
How can you prevent this cancer?
You can lower your risk of getting this type of cancer by cutting back on your alcohol consumption or even quitting drinking entirely. However, your level of risk doesn't drop immediately. According to the National Institutes of Health, it can take years for your risk to drop to the same level as someone who has never drank alcohol. Some studies have shown that it can take as long as 10 years for your risk to start to decrease while other studies have shown that your risk stays elevated for 16 years.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of oral cancer, and if you're a heavy drinker, you have an increased risk of developing it. If you notice any changes inside your mouth, make sure to see your dentist from a site like http://www.joerosenbergddspa.net right.