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Alcohol blamed for oral cancer rise

An increasing number of people in their forties are developing oral cancers because of heavy drinking, experts say.

Figures from Cancer Research UK show that since the mid-1990s, cancers of the mouth, tongue, lip and throat have increased by a quarter among those in their forties. The rates have increased by 28% for men and 24% for women.

The two main risk factors for oral cancers are smoking and alcohol. However, cancers from tobacco take around 30 years to develop and so the "alarming" rise over the past decade is being chiefly blamed on alcohol.

The UK has seen alcohol consumption almost double since the 1950s.

The charity's health information manager Hazel Nunn said: "Around three quarters of oral cancers are thought to be caused by smoking and drinking alcohol.

"Tobacco is, by far, the main risk factor for oral cancer, so it's important that we keep encouraging people to give up and think about new ways to stop people taking it up in the first place."

Other risk factors include sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) and a diet low in fruit and vegetables.

Around 1,800 people die from oral cancer and 5,000 new cases of oral cancers are reported in the UK every year.

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Cancer Research UK