Almost 250,000 people in England quit smoking between April 1 and December 31 2009, a rise of 10 percent compared to the same period in 2008 – according to the results of a new national survey.
Results from the NHS Stop Smoking Services survey also showed that more than another 375,000 of the country’s smokers have decided to kick the habit for good and set a quit date.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, has welcomed the results but insisted that more needs to be done to educate people on the hazards of smoking.
Dr Carter said: “Most people are now aware that smoking is bad for our health. It can cause many different medical problems and in some cases fatal diseases. However, many people do not realise the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth.
“Smoking can lead to tooth staining, gum disease and tooth loss.
“When people think of the dangers of smoking they instantly think of lung and throat cancer, but many are still unaware that it is one of the main causes of mouth cancer too.
“Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. It can appear as a painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally. A white or red patch in the mouth can also develop into a cancer. It is important to visit your dentist if these areas do not heal within three weeks.”
Mouth cancer has become one of the UK’s fastest growing cancers, diagnosing more than 5,000 people every year.
Without early diagnosis chances of survival could plummet down to 50 percent.
“The best chance of beating the cancer comes from early detection, improving survival rates to more than 90 percent, so it is important to follow the slogan of the Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign: ‘If in doubt, get checked out.’ Many people with mouth cancer go to their dentist or doctor too late.”
The Foundation encourages members of the public with any concerns about their oral health to contact the National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188.
Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women.
Tobacco remains the leading cause of mouth cancer in the UK, with cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking the main forms of use. However, the traditional ethnic habits of chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are particularly dangerous.
The results of the survey, which were published at the end of last week, also revealed a dramatic increase in expenditure on NHS Stop Smoking Services. Figures released showed almost a 20 percent rise in spending to �£60.6 million, almost �£9 million more than the same period in 2008.
Of those who set a quit date success at the four week follow–up increased with age, from 32 percent of those aged under 18, to 56 percent of those aged 60 and over finally managing to give up the habit for good.
Worryingly, less than half of the 14,608 pregnant women who set a quit date successfully stopped smoking after the four weeks.
Among Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), the East Midlands SHA reported the highest proportion of successful quitters with 55 percent, while North East SHA, North West SHA & London SHA reported the lowest success rate at 44 percent.
Among Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), Warrington PCT reported the highest proportion of successful quitters with 68 percent, while City & Hackney Teaching PCT reported the lowest success rate at 29 percent.
Regional figures from the NHS Stop Smoking Services report can be handed out by contacting the British Dental Health Foundation press office at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 539792.
For information, logos and press resources visit the website www.mouthcancer.org.
Case studies can be discussed with the Press Office.
The most common causes of oral cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol to excess, linked to 80 per cent of cases. Self examination is another simple way of looking after yourself.
Early warning signs of mouth cancer include ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps and swellings in the mouth and neck.
For more information go online at www.mouthcancer.org or call the National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188.
The full NHS SSS report can be accessed at http://bit.ly/daxu1N
Facts and Figures
In the UK over 5,000 are diagnosed each year. This figure has increased by 43% over the last decade.
Around 1,700 people die of mouth cancer every year.
Mouth cancer is more common in men than women, but the gap is closing.
Mouth cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition.
Smoking is the number one cause for mouth cancer. Cigarette smoke converts saliva into a deadly cell–damaging cocktail.
Switching to low–tar cigarettes will not help, as smokers of ‘lights’ tend to inhale more smoke than smokers of ‘regular’ cigarettes.
Although some people believe that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking, the reality is that it is even more dangerous. Chewing tobacco, paan, areca nut and gutkha are habits favoured by some ethnic groups.
Alcohol aids absorption of smoke into the mouth people who smoke and drink alcohol to excess are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.
Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases. Evidence shows an increase in fruit and vegetables lowers the risk, as can fish and eggs.
It is recommended that people enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, including food from each of the major food groups and including fruit and vegetables of all different colours as each colour contains different vitamins.