New research suggests that young adults who smoke, drink and do not eat a balanced diet could be more likely to develop cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and larynx.
A study carried out by researchers at the University of Aberdeen found that nearly nine out of 10 upper aero-digestive tract (UADT) cancers in people aged under 50 were caused by smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol or having a lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet.
Professor of Epidemiology, Gary MacFarlane, who led the study, said: "Cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract are on the increase throughout the world and to date the increases have been greatest in young adults under the age of 50.
"For example, we have witnessed a doubling of oral cancer rates in 40 to 49-year-old men in the UK over the last 20 years.
"Our study aimed to determine whether smoking, alcohol consumption and low fruit and vegetable intake remained the most significant risk factors for UADT cancers in this age group, or whether other 'novel' factors including genetics and infection could be relatively more important.
"Our findings confirmed that smoking tobacco, heavy alcohol consumption and a lack of fruit and vegetables in a person's diet remained the most important causes of cancers of the UADT".