Dr. Sturgis commented, “The overwhelming cause of oral cancers is smoking, and the only proven effective way to try to prevent these cancers is to stop smoking. Of course, we all recommend healthy diets, but we don’t have a magic folate pill or other micronutrient supplements that could erase the deleterious effects of smoking.”
The sources interviewed agreed that cessation counseling should top the list of physicians’ messages to patients who smoke. “Continuing to smoke is never a good idea,” said Dr. LaVecchia, and dietary measures, no matter how healthy, cannot replace quitting smoking as a frontline defense against oral cancer.
“Stopping smoking is clearly the first thing to do for any smoker,” he said. Former smokers continue to have an excess of cancer risk for several years after quitting, he added. “So, if there is a good time to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, it is when you stop smoking. You can spare some calories and avoid the increase of weight which is common when you stop smoking, and also reduce your risk of upper digestive and respiratory tract cancers.”