Secondhand smoke exposure raises the risk of oral cancer by 50%
Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke may increase a person’s risk of developing lip, mouth, and throat cancers by more than 50%, according to a systematic review published in Tobacco Control.
Those who breathe in secondhand smoke for more than 10 to 15 years maybe twice as likely to develop oral cancer as people not exposed to passive smoke, the authors wrote.
“Our systematic review and meta-analysis support a consistent and statistically significant association between [secondhand smoke] exposure and the risk of oral cancer,” wrote the group, led by Kurt Straif, Ph.D., a visiting professor at the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA.
Health goes up in smoke
Smoking is linked to numerous diseases and negatively affects oral health, causing more dental plaque and worsening existing gum disease. Evidence has shown that exposure to secondhand smoke may cause inflammation in the oral cavity and impair salivary gland function, and it may directly affect teeth and microorganisms found in the mouth.
Smoking tobacco, using smokeless tobacco, drinking alcohol, and chewing betel quid are also known to increase the risk of developing oral cancers. Oral cancers account for approximately 448,000 new cases of cancer and about 228,000 deaths annually worldwide, according to the cancer statistics platform Global Cancer Observatory.