Anyone can develop oral cancer, whether they are young or old, male or female, otherwise healthy, or quite unhealthy. But while this is a disease that can strike anyone, there are certain people who are at a higher risk than others. Here's a look at some qualities and factors that increase your risk of oral cancer.

A Family History

If your mother, father, or a grandparent has or has had oral cancer, then you are at a higher risk of developing this condition than someone with no family history of oral cancer. Keep in mind that throat and oral cancers are closely related and are often the exact same condition—just in a slightly different location. So if your mother had throat cancer, you can consider yourself at an increased risk of all oral and throat cancers.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco smoke contains many toxins that increase your risk of oral cancer. It does not matter what you smoke—cigarettes, cigars, hookah, or bowls of loose tobacco. Smoking will greatly increase your risk of oral cancer. Some people think that cigars are safer because you don't inhale the smoke. However, the smoke still has just as much contact with your cheek tissues, which is what matters when it comes to oral cancer.

Chewing tobacco is also very risky. Stay away from all chewing tobacco products if you don't want to develop oral cancer! Try chewing nicotine gum instead, and then slowly wean yourself off of that and onto plain, sugar-free gum.

Excessive Alcohol Intake

An occasional beer or glass or wine with dinner is not anything to be concerned about. In fact, drinking a bit of wine is said to be great for your health, overall. However, excessive consumption of alcohol—especially hard liquor—will increase your risk of oral cancer. Exposure to alcohol is said to damage your cheek cells and make them more prone to developing cancer.

Human Papillomavirus

Certain strains of HPV, which is best known for its involvement in cervical cancer, can increase your risk of oral cancer. If you've noticed warts around your mouth or face, you may have these strains of HPV. Have your mouth looked over by a dentist at a location like Peninsula Community Health Services- Medical (Cottonwood) to ensure you're not developing oral cancer as well. You can minimize your risk of contracting HPV by avoiding personal contact with anyone who you suspect may be carrying HPV. Keep in mind, however, that many people carry this virus without showing any symptoms. This is not a risk factor that you can do a lot about.