Double Oral Cancer Risk For Male Smokers

Posted 11th April 2018 by Dave Cross
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has released figures that indicate males are twice as likely as females to suffer from the development of oral cancers. Given that smoking features as one of the three biggest causes of this, encouraging them to switch to vaping has never been more important.

The oral cancers that CRUK state males run an increased risk of contracting includes cancers of the mouth, tongue, lips, tonsils and the oropharynx.

Currently over 5,300 men are diagnosed with an oral cancer each year. This compares to a figure of just over 2,500 for women. Another difference is that males tend to be diagnosed with an oral cancer at a much earlier age than women. CRUK state that oral cancer is only the eleventh most common cancer in males, but when focussing on men in the 45 – 59yrs bracket it becomes the 4th most common.

CRUK says that ninety percent of oral cancers are caused by three main activities: smoking, alcohol and contracting human papillomavirus. Within men, seventy percent of oral cancers are linked to smoking.

CRUK’s Richard Roope said: “It’s a real concern that so many men are getting oral cancer and that it’s been on the rise in both men and women. But the vast majority of oral cancer cases are preventable, so the good news is that people can cut their risk by quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol. It’s also vital that everyone knows what their mouth tongue and gums usually feel like so they can spot anything out of the ordinary. Early diagnosis is absolutely key for the best results which is why we’re set on helping dentists and GPs catch oral cancer sooner.”


Last August, we reported on a research paper by Doctor William Stephens, at the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of St Andrews. In it, Stephens concluded that the cancer-causing potential of vaping was less than 1% that of tobacco smoking.

He highlighted that this list of carcinogens are present in cigarette smoke:

  • Acrylonitrile
  • Benzene
  • 1,3-Butadiene
  • 2-Amino-naphthalene
  • 4-Amino-biphenyl
  • Benzo[a]pyrene
  • Chromium
  • Arsenic

The point of this was to illustrate that they aren’t found in vape. The only downside to his investigation was the warning about formaldehyde – but we know that is only produced in dry burn situations and renders vaping exceptionally unpleasant, so people don’t do it. His list of conclusions in full:

  • Emissions from vapourised nicotine products (VNP) including e-cigarettes contain carcinogens but generally in lower concentrations than tobacco smoke.
  • Each carcinogen contributes quantifiably to the overall cancer potency and risk.
  • Users and policymakers need quantitative evidence on the relative risks of cancer from the use of VNPs compared with smoking tobacco.
  • Previous studies considered the individual carcinogens in an emission; here a method is developed that models the aggregate cancer potencies of all measured carcinogens and overcomes incompatibilities in data reporting conventions enabling direct comparison of the potencies and risks of tobacco smoke with VNP emissions.
  • Cancer potencies span five orders of magnitude creating a spectrum ranging from uncontaminated air through VNPs to tobacco smoke.
  • Most e-cigarette analyses indicate cancer potencies <1% that of tobacco smoke and <10% that of a heat-not-burn prototype, although a minority of analyses indicate higher potencies.
  • Highly carcinogenic emissions from e-cigarettes are avoidable, being due largely to user choice of device setting, liquid formulation and vaping behaviour, highlighting a need for increased user awareness and personal involvement in reducing risk.

Cancer cell photo credit: C. Goldsmith


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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