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MCAW ETHNIC LIFESTYLE: Oral health charity warning gives tobacco chewers food for thought

Armen Hareyan's picture

Date: Oct. 06, 2004
Released: Immediate

Britain's leading oral health charity has warned ethnic groups to reconsider their chewing habits, as tobacco, paan, gutkha and areca nut all increase a person's chances of developing mouth cancer.

The British Dental Health Foundation issued the warning in the run-up to Mouth Cancer Awareness Week, which runs from November 7 to 13.

Mouth cancer kills one person every five hours in the UK and the number of cases is increasing faster than any other cancer.

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Tobacco is the most common cause of the condition and people who chew tobacco are just as likely as smokers to develop the disease. Combining tobacco use with alcohol makes a person up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented: "Mouth cancer is a deadly disease that is killing more and more people every year."

Many ethnic groups enjoy habits such as chewing tobacco or areca nut. Unfortunately these habits are very dangerous as they can significantly increase the likelihood of a person developing mouth cancer.

"The main problem with mouth cancer is that few people are aware of the condition, its symptoms and its main risk factors. In fact, a recent study in Scotland found that only six percent of people can demonstrate unprompted awareness of mouth cancer. Even more worryingly, due to a lack of information available in Asian languages, the figure is probably much less for ethnic groups."

Early detection is the key to surviving mouth cancer, and a person's survival chances increase from 50 to 90 percent if the condition is treated early enough