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26/09/2005 - Young people hit by mouth cancer

Increasing numbers of young people are being hit by mouth cancer, sparking new warnings about the disease. Mouth cancer was once considered to mostly affect older men, but it is now becoming more common in younger people and women.

It is possible that binge-drinking and smoking could be helping to fuel rising rates of the disease as these are key risk factors. The ratio of women to men suffering mouth cancer has grown by a third in the last 10 years, although men are still twice as likely to develop the disease. Every year in the UK, there are 4,300 new cases diagnosed and 1,700 deaths. The most common causes of mouth cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol to excess - people who do both are up to 30 times more likely to develop the condition than those who do not.

However, the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) said about 25% of mouth cancer cases in younger people involved none of these common risk factors. The foundation said this meant it was vital people learnt to be aware of the possible symptoms, even if they led a healthy lifestyle.

Original Daily Mail Article - Original article in the Daily Mail

Powerwatch CommentsThis may initially seem irrelevant to what we normally cover, but a factor that has simply not been assessed is mobile phone usage. The possibility of increased risk of head cancers such as acoustic neuromas from mobile phone usage has become ever more evident, and mouth cancer would be very close to where a regular mobile phone user would be holding their phone.

With this in mind, and the fact that the great increase over the last 10 years would also closely relate to the great increase in mobile phone usage, this must surely be a risk factor worth considering, especially when the BDHF state "we not to know the key causal factor of 25% of the cases".

It would seem sensible from now on to record the mobile phone use history of young people developing mouth cancer to see if there is any association.