Oral cancer occurs due to multistep process of accumulated genetic mutations caused by many factors which includes tobacco and alcohol use, viruses and also diet.
Using tobacco — including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and spit tobacco-is a well-established risk factor for oral cancer. Tobacco in any form contains carcinogens and nicotine, an addictive chemical that can give you a check.
A popular betel quid-spit tobacco mixture, used throughout India, has been implicated in the high rate of oral cancer in south part of the India. Alcohol consumption can also increase a person’s chance of developing oral cancer.
One theory suggests that alcohol generates metabolites, or byproducts of metabolism, that are carcinogenic to humans; the major metabolite of ethanol is acetaldehyde, a recognized animal carcinogen. Alcohol also might “grease the wheels” for tobacco by acting as a solvent and making it easier for carcinogenic agents to penetrate the oral tissues.
Using both tobacco and alcohol produces a much greater risk for oral cancer than using either substance alone. It is estimated that approximately 75 percent of all oral and pharyngeal cancers in the India are caused by smoking and drinking, with most of these cases caused by tobacco and alcohol working synergistically.
Viruses, too, are thought to be involved in the development of these cancers. The human papillomavirus (HPV), particularly the HPV-16 and HPV-18 strains, and the herpes viruses are now considered possible contributors to some cases of oral cancer. DNA from HPV and certain herpes viruses, including Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex, has been detected in oral cancer biopsies.
Genes encoded within these viruses are implicated in the initiation of the multiple steps required for a normal cell to become malignant. Interestingly, scientists have recently linked a new virus with AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), a cancer that has a preference for the head and neck.
The newly identified virus, called human herpesvirus 8, has been found in all forms of Kaposi sarcoma, suggesting it might be involved in the sarcoma’s development. A direct causal role, however, has not yet been established.
Prevention is better than cure. Tobacco in any form, alcohol in any occasion is going to affect our health and happiness terribly. So as a responsible citizen we have to hold our hands together to fight against the devil who spoil our children’s future.
Published on public interest
Occasion: Oral Cancer Awareness Month (APRIL 2019)