Tobacco use is the biggest cause of mouth cancer and researchers have found that those who smoke in the morning are further increasing their chance of developing the disease.
A new study has suggested that people who smoke within five minutes of waking up are more at risk of the harmful effects of tobacco than those who wait for at least an hour.
In addition to this alarming news, previous research also suggested that people who light up in the morning also find it more difficult to quit as the time it takes for a person to have their first cigarette is an indication of their level of addiction.
It is therefore hoped that smokers will take notice of this new link to mouth cancer and make concerted efforts to give up.
Mouth cancer is one of the few cancers predicted to rise over the next decade, with figures showing that it claims more lives than road traffic accidents.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), said: “A cigarette in the morning isn’t an easy thing to give up – research has shown this. However, if a morning cigarette exposes people to twice the amount of harmful chemicals caused by smoking, it is something people musty ditch immediately.”
However, despite the predicted rise in mortalities and number of cases of mouth cancer, Dr Carter feels there is not enough publicity surrounding the disease and it is therefore essential that there is a greater awareness of risk factors among smokers in the UK.
As early detection plays a pivotal role in survival rates, it is important that the general public are well-versed on what the warning signs are. For example, dental welcome packs could highlight the issue and make patients aware of risk factors such as smoking, a poor diet and other lifestyle behaviours.
The BDHF cites the mantra “if in doubt, get it checked out” and patients should be encouraged to do just this should they notice unusual lumps or ulcers, for example.