Dental Problems

Risk Factors for Tongue Cancer

tnge-cancerAmong the most malignant and frequent types of mouth or oral cancer, tongue cancer is the one. Tongue cancer is highly afflicted in adults above 60 years of age, but it can also affect people of 40 years of age. There are many risk factors of tongue cancer. In this article, there is a brief discussion on the tongue cancer risk factors. Let us examine them.

Risk factors for tongue cancer

Tongue cancer affects men more than women. The African American people are at a greater risk than the other people of ethnicities by the ratio of 2:1. Although the exact reason or cause of cancer on the tongue is unknown, but there are several risks factors and/or reasons which have been discovered, they are being studied by the researchers.

1. Smoking

  • Occasionally, individuals without any risk factors can also develop tongue cancer, but one of the main biggest risk factors is the heavy use of tobacco.
  • The cancer is generally formed when these mucous membranes and lining of the mouth get irritated.
  • The mucous membrane irritation is caused by carcinogens (a compound) which is present in the tobacco. While combustion of the tobacco, these carcinogens directly send the byproducts to the mucous membranes causing irritation.
  • The heat while combusting tobacco from the pipe, cigar or cigarette smoke can also irritate and worsen the mucous membranes.
  • Chewing snuff and tobacco will allow direct contact of the harmful compounds of the tobacco with the membranes, which cause irritation of the mucous membranes rapidly.

2. Alcohol consumption

  • Drinking alcohol heavily is also a greater risk factor of tongue cancer.
  • After drinking alcohol, the cell wall inside the mouth becomes dehydrated, allowing the carcinogens from the alcohol to spread through the mouth tissues.
  • The deficiencies in nutrition reduce the body’s natural ability to utilize the antioxidants in order to avoid the cancer growth.
  • Liver or cirrhosis might also be tied with an increased risk for the oral cancers.
  • Cirrhosis causes the mouth and throat tissues to develop smooth texture, which further allows the carcinogens to directly pass through the tissues of the mouth.
  • There is even a higher risk when the patient drinks and smokes.

3. Human Papilloma Virus

  • HPV or human papilloma virus is one of the risk factor for the oral cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus and is commonly having above 120 strains, but the one linked with oral cancers is the HPV16 strain.
  • Oral cancer caused by the HPV begins generally on the back of the infected patients tongue.
  • However, kissing someone whose affected with HPV must not spread this disease, but the oral sexual contact has been appeared to be the one with most widespread means of infection.

4. African Americans

  • The ranking of oral cancer is 4th in cancers in the African American men.
  • The ratio for cancer patients is 2:1 in African Americans when compared to to the Caucasian population.
  • The survival rate is 55% among Caucasians when compared to 33% among African Americans.


  • Certain lifestyle changes will radically help to diminish the chances of developing oral and tongue disease, even when you cannot help the genetic predisposition.
  • Since this combination of drinking alcohol and smoking is widely regarded as one of the most common risk factor for tongue cancer, thus it is very important to limit the consumption of alcohol and chewing tobacco. Because lowering the intake of carcinogens will help greatly to reduce the chances of developing oral and tongue cancers and also helps to slow down the growth process of already developing cancers.
  • Limit the sexual activity to only one person in life, as it drastically reduces the risk of getting HPV, thus lowering the risk with which it will develop in a more serious disease condition, such as oral or tongue cancer.
  • Getting tested for the HPV and knowing about the choices available for the vaccination, especially if one is sexually active is important.

This article discusses all about the risk factors for tongue cancer and the preventive measures.

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