Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol to excess are two of the main causes of mouth cancer, and they can be many times more dangerous when combined. However, the British public has drastically underestimated just how dangerous they can be.
When a person both drinks excessive amounts of alcohol and smokes tobacco, their risk of developing mouth cancer increases by up to thirty times. However, the vast majority of the UK is not aware of this.
When polled by OnePoll, on behalf of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), a massive 89 per cent of Britons incorrectly guessed how much smoking and drinking increases the risk of mouth cancer.
Most people assumed that drinking and smoking together doubles the risk of mouth cancer, with 44 per cent giving this answer to the poll. This is obviously a huge underestimation, as the risks increase by a much larger amount.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH, said:”People know about lung cancer but don’t necessarily realise that smoking is also by far the biggest single cause of mouth cancer.”
In order to tackle this problem the BDHF has organised Mouth Cancer Action Month, a dental marketing campaign to raise awareness of the causes and dangers of mouth cancer. The disease is known to kill one person in the UK every four hours, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined.
The BDHF has called on the UK government to fight against mouth cancer by introducing standardised packaging for tobacco products and minimum alcohol pricing. It is thought that both of these would decrease the amount of people smoking and drinking.
Around half of all those questioned support the idea of standardised tobacco packaging, whereas 31 per cent supported the idea of a minimum price for alcohol.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the BDHF, said: “Standardised packaging and minimum alcohol pricing are schemes that, if implemented, could herald some major health improvements.
“That is why the government must re-visit and reverse these decisions as soon as possible. Data from Australia has shown how successful even in a few months standard tobacco packaging can be. The longer they wait the more lives are put at risk.”