What are the causes of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancers can grow or occur when the cells in the lips and mouth get mutated. The mutation occurs in their DNA. The DNA of a cell contains valuable information about the work process of that cell as well as the replication cycle. With the mutation in the picture, the cell continues replicating itself even when not required. It slowly depletes the healthy cells, and those healthy cells are, over time, replaced by the tumorous cells.
These tumorous cells later form cancer and can spread throughout the body in the later stages. Oral cancers usually begin to grow from the thin, flat cells called squamous cells that form the lips and inside of the mouth. Most of the oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. The actual cause of the mutation occurring in the cell has not been identified yet.
Some of the main causes of Oral Cancer:
- Tobacco Use: Tobacco use, whether it is smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or using smokeless tobacco products, is one of the leading causes of oral cancer. The harmful chemicals present in tobacco products can damage the cells in the mouth and throat, leading to the development of cancerous growths.
- Alcohol Consumption: Regular and excessive alcohol consumption is another significant risk factor for oral cancer. Alcohol can irritate the cells in the mouth and throat, making them more susceptible to genetic changes that can lead to cancer development.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection: Certain strains of HPV, particularly HPV-16 and HPV-18, have been linked to the development of oral cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, and individuals who engage in unprotected oral sex with infected partners are at an increased risk.
- Sun Exposure: Prolonged and unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, primarily from the sun, can increase the risk of developing lip cancer. Lips are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation, which can lead to the formation of cancerous lesions.
- Poor Oral Hygiene and Dental Health: Neglecting proper oral hygiene and dental care can contribute to the development of oral cancer. Chronic irritation, inflammation, and infection in the mouth can increase the risk of genetic mutations and the growth of cancerous cells.
- Age and Gender: Oral cancer tends to occur more frequently in older individuals, with the risk increasing significantly after the age of 40. Additionally, men are more likely than women to develop oral cancer, although the gap is gradually narrowing.
- Family History: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing oral cancer. A family history of the disease can increase the risk, although the specific genes involved have not yet been fully identified.