From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 9 April 2024
Date April 9, 2024 1:08 PM
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** 9 April 2024

** UK

** How to spot the signs of mouth cancer (#1)

** Cancer charity supports Northern Ireland alcohol warning labels (#3)

** International

** Experts think they've pinpointed bodily changes that are driving skyrocketing cancer rates in under 50s (#4)

** UK

** How to spot the signs of mouth cancer

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, affects around 8,800 people in the UK each year according to the Oral Health Foundation, and more than 3,000 people died from the illness in 2022. Worldwide, 650,000 people are diagnosed annually. Despite these numbers, there is little awareness of the condition and many patients struggle to get diagnosed, which is concerning as survival rates generally depend on early identification and treatment.

Mouth cancer is the most common type of head and neck cancer and can affect areas in and around the mouth, including the lips, tongue, inside the cheeks, roof of the mouth and gums. The most common type of mouth cancer is oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), which accounts for nine out of 10 cases.

Joss Harding is a dental hygienist and the president elect of the Mouth Cancer Foundation. She explains that vigilance and early detection are vital for improved survival rates.

The mortality rate of OSCC has remained static in recent decades. One of the reasons for this is late diagnosis. A study published in Frontiers journal in 2022, which reviewed papers on diagnostic delays in OSCC, reported that patients waited between 45 days and approximately six months. One of the main causes of delay was patient lack of knowledge about the signs, symptoms and risk factors of oral cancer. Professional delay was also cited as a factor.

There are several lifestyle risk factors for mouth cancer. The main one is smoking, followed by regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week. Regularly drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of developing mouth cancer fourfold, and those who drink and smoke together are 30 times more likely to develop the disease. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is another significant factor.

Poor diet, social deprivation and exposure to sun have also been identified as risk factors, and it is important to understand that mouth cancer can develop in people who have none of the associated risk factors.

Mouth cancer presents in several ways. Signs to look out for include a mouth ulcer that lasts more than three weeks, a red or white patch inside the mouth, unusual lumps, mouth pain, difficulty swallowing or speaking, hoarseness and unexplained weight loss.

Dentists and dental hygienists should now routinely screen patients for mouth cancer during appointments, and Harding recommends that everyone over the age of 16 should check for signs in front of a mirror once a month after brushing their teeth. The Mouth Cancer Foundation website provides detailed information, a video and guidance on self-checking.

Source: The Telegraph, 8 April 2024

See also: Mauceri R, Bazzano M, Coppini M, Tozzo P, Panzarella V and Campisi G (2022) Diagnostic delay of oral squamous cell carcinoma and the fear of diagnosis: A scoping review. Front ([link removed]) . Psychol.

Mouth Cancer Foundation – Self examination ([link removed])
Read Here ([link removed])

** Cancer charity supports Northern Ireland alcohol warning labels

Cancer warning labels on alcohol products should be introduced in Northern Ireland, according to a cancer charity.

From 2026, it will be a legal requirement for all bottles of alcohol in the Republic of Ireland to carry a label.

However, alcohol producers have expressed concern that the law could impact sales and add to their workload.

Cancer Focus NI has said a "bold" approach was needed by Stormont.

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland's Department of Health said there were no current plans to introduce such requirements on alcohol labelling.

"Given the nature of the market, it is likely that any such changes across the UK administrations would need to be discussed on a four nations basis," they added.

Twenty years ago, Ireland was the first country to ban smoking in the workplace, including bars and restaurants.

Health campaigners hope more countries will follow the Republic's lead on alcohol health warnings too.

Doreen Regan from Cancer Focus NI would like to see a similarly "bold" step being taken in Northern Ireland.

“We know there’s a clear link between drinking alcohol and cancer," she said.

"It causes seven different types of cancer and the Northern Ireland cancer strategy states that it’s linked to at least 300 cases per year in Northern Ireland.

"So anything that’s going to help prevent that, or help empower people to make more informed choices, we would definitely be in support of."

Source: BBC News, 7 April 2024
Read Here ([link removed])

** International

** Experts think they've pinpointed bodily changes that are driving skyrocketing cancer rates in under 50s

A new study by experts from Washington University in St Louis found that the generations with higher cancer rates have cells and tissues in their body that are old beyond their years.

In other words, people born after 1965 - aged 59 or younger - may be biologically older than their chronological age.

Cells are the hub of every bodily function. And as they age, their ability to repair and multiply becomes impaired, leading to a plethora of knock-on effects.

Experts reacting to the findings said it could mean a simple blood test and algorithm could be used to figure out who was at higher risk of cancer due to an accelerated rate of aging, and then screening could be recommended on an individual basis.

Faster aging may be due to more stressful lifestyles and poorer mental health, obesity, sedentary lifestyles and junk food consumption.

Ruiyi Tian, a Washington University graduate student and the study's first author, said: 'Unlike chronological age, biological age may be influenced by factors such as diet, physical activity, mental health, and environmental stressors.

'Accumulating evidence suggests that the younger generations may be aging more swiftly than anticipated, likely due to earlier exposure to various risk factors and environmental insults.'

Researchers from Korea studied more than 2.9 million people and found that people who stopped smoking had a 17 percent lower risk of all types of cancer compared with those who did not quit smoking.

Smoking is known to be contributing factor for multiple cancers, including lung, stomach, colorectal, liver, pancreas and kidney.

Not getting enough sleep can also increase biological age, as can being overweight and obese.

All these factors have also been tabled as contributing factors to the increasing cancer cases in under 50s.

Source: Daily Mail, 8 April 2024

See also: American Association for Cancer Research - Accelerated Aging May Increase the Risk of Early-onset Cancers in Younger Generations ([link removed])

Park E, Kang H, Lim MK, Kim B, Oh J. Cancer Risk Following Smoking Cessation in Korea ([link removed]) . JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(2):e2354958. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen
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