More than three in four (78%) adults do not consider themselves to be at risk of mouth cancer.
But a new poll finds many Brits are putting themselves in danger by smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and regular oral sex.
As part of November’s Mouth Cancer Action Month, the Oral Health Foundation wants to raise awareness of the disease and has created a test for you to determine your mouth cancer risk.
The majority of Brits do not consider themselves to be at risk of mouth cancer yet confess to regularly putting themselves in danger through exposure to the disease’s leading causes, a new poll finds.
Latest research by the Oral Health Foundation reveals more than three in four (78%) British adults believe they are not at risk of being diagnosed with mouth cancer, despite many admitting to smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Almost one in five (18%) polled smoke, nearly half (48%) drink alcohol on a regular basis, close to a third (31%) confess to having an unhealthy diet while more than one in ten (11%) have oral sex more at least once a week.
Smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and the human papillomavirus (HPV) transmitted through oral sex, are all heavily linked to a greater risk of developing mouth cancer.
The charity, currently campaigning as part of Mouth Cancer Action Month, are looking to spread awareness of the causes associated with the disease and highlight the importance of recognising whether you are at greater risk.
Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says: 'More than nine in ten mouth cancers are linked to lifestyle factors and the only way to curb this risk is by quitting or reducing habits such as smoking and alcohol.
'Mouth cancer is still a relatively unknown disease, with many still unaware that you are able to develop cancer on the tongue, cheeks, lips, head and neck. It is important to be aware that cancer could develop in this area of the body, especially if you regularly exposure yourself to lifestyle choices which have been linked with the disease.'
According to latest figures, the number of new mouth cancer cases each year in the UK has exceeded 7,500, meaning the those diagnosed with the disease have increased by more than two thirds (68%) in the last 20 years.
More than 2.5 million British adults exceed the recommended 14 units of alcohol weekly while there are an estimated 8.5 million smokers.
The current lifetime risk of mouth cancer in the UK is one in 75 for men and one in 150 for women and research from the Oral Health Foundation could offer an explanation.
Findings from the nationwide survey show men are slightly more likely to smoke (18% vs 17%), are a fifth more likely to regularly consume alcohol (57% vs 40%) and are twice as likely to perform oral sex (14% vs 7%) compared to women.
Manchester-based dentist Dr Ben Atkins, a Trustee at the Oral Health Foundation and our very own oral health expert, says although mouth cancer is linked to certain risk factors, it is not completely avoidable.
Dr Atkins says: 'While there are steps you can take to keep mouth cancer at bay, no cancer is totally preventable. Being diagnosed with mouth cancer remains fairly unlikely but could happen to anybody so it is really important to know what to look for and be proactive in looking for the early warnings signs.
'Lookout for mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red or white patches and unusual lumps and swellings. Places to check include the floor and roof of your mouth, inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, head and neck. If you notice any of these, please make an appointment with your dentist or doctor.'
Mouth Cancer Action Month aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer, promote the value of self-examination and encourage regular trips to the dentist, as they perform a visual mouth cancer check during every dental check-up.