Three years ago, when Hollywood actor Michael Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer, he told The Guardian newspaper reported that it was caused by oral sex. He had initially maintained that it had resulted from heavy smoking, alcohol abuse and stress for years.
Causes of throat cancer are still a mystery to medical researchers; however, certain factors can be associated with its development.
While you smoke a cigarette, the tobacco inside it burns, forming small droplets of tar containing carcinogenic substances which are then inhaled into the lungs. This smoke destroys the defensive function of the respiratory tract, causes mucosal inflammatory changes and malignant transformation of epithelial cells. The process eventually leads to throat and lung cancer.
This cause is further justified by the statutory warning broadcasted by the government during films.
It may not directly act as a cause of throat cancer but alcohol abuse along with smoking increases the risk by various folds. Particularly, it serves as a budding ground for supraglottic throat cancer.
Alcohol and nicotine, if consumed together, directly benefit the development of malignant cells in the mucosa of the throat. It then continues to grow without restrain and ultimately leads to throat cancer.
People who do not smoke or drink but experience frequent heartburns, have higher risk of developing cancers of the throat.
Pollution in the Air
Irritants in the air that we breathe not only choke us but also put s at the risk of throat cancer. Industrial dust, wood dust, chemical dust and road dust- all these substances act as culprits for causing throat cancer.
Harmful chemicals like sulphur dioxide, chromium, arsenic are emitted by exhaust or flue gas and directly hurt our throats. Asbestos and other pollutants also add to the problem.
Throat leukoplakia is white, thick patches on the mucous membrane of the throat that will not rub off. The throat leukoplakia occurs due to long-term upper respiratory infection, smoking, harmful gases stimulus, use of excessive sound. It tends to always develop into throat cancer. It is rare that chronic laryngitis develops throat cancer, but this possibility should not be completely ruled out.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a DNA virus from the papillomavirus family that is capable of infecting humans. Such viruses can also play role in the development of throat cancer. The genetic material of certain virus has also been found in the throat cancer cells of some patients which proves them to be true as a risk factor.
In a study published in NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine), Dr Maura Gillison of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and team suggested that people who have oral sex with at least 6 different partners have a significantly higher risk of developing throat cancer.
They found that people who had at least 6 oral-sex partners during their lifetime were 3.4 times more likely to have throat cancer. Those with 26 or more vaginal-sex partners had a 3.1 times higher risk of developing throat cancer.
While one cannot help factors like genetic history of cancers, one can surely avoid smoking and drinking in order to prevent one’s throat to develop cancer.
Read more articles on Cancer.