Oral cancer in the crosshairs at San Antonio Dental School

Author: Wendy Rigby

San Antonio researchers are working on a new therapy for a stealthy killer: oral cancer. Visits to the dentist are your number one protection against the disease. In a lab at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, dental researcher Cara Gonzales, DDS, Ph.D., shared promising news on a new approach to healing.

“It was very exciting,” Gonzales said. “These patients have not had any new therapeutic options in 40 years.”

The discovery of a new gene that’s turned on in oral cancers gave Gonzales and her colleagues a new target at which to aim. It’s a gene that’s also found in lung cancers.

So-called nude mice are used in the oral cancer experiments. Webdt Rigby / Texas Public Radio

So-called nude mice are used in the oral cancer experiments.
Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

Gonzales works in a sprawling space filled with lab equipment and cell lines used in many molecular biology projects. One of her research assistants brought in a cage of lab animals with some strange lumps on their backs.

“These are called nude mice because they don’t have a complete immune system,” Gonzales explained.

These mice are at the center of a successful experiment. First, scientists used human oral cancer cells to grow large tumors on the animals. They tried one oral cancer drug already on the market. Not much action. Then, they tried a lung cancer drug, also already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Not that effective on its own. Finally, they used a combination of two drugs. What happened made the medical profession take notice.

“When we combined the two, then we saw a 50 percent reduction in the tumor volumes after 14 days,” Gonzales described.

That kind of success could help thousands of patients whose cancers aren’t caught until the later stage, patients like Paige Lewis of San Antonio who was only 35 when she got the results of a biopsy from her doctor.

“I walked in and she said the words I’ll never forget,” Lewis recalled. “‘Sweetie, it’s cancer.’”

Lewis had tried for a year to get various doctors and her dentist to examine and biopsy the strange spot under her tongue. But no one really thought she was at risk for the disease.

“I was told it’s most likely nothing because I’m young. I was only 35 years old. I was a female non-smoker, non-drinker,” Lewis said.

While smoking, drinking and age are big risk factors for oral cancer, so is the presence of the human papillomavirus in the body. Some cases, like Lewis’, are simply unexplained.

Since her cancer was so advanced, Lewis, a single mother of three children, faced a massive surgery and weeks of radiation. Paige still bears scars on her arm from a major surgery where doctors removed her tumor and rebuilt her tongue.

“They removed half of my tongue,” she described. “They harvested part of my arm in order to place a flap in my mouth. And then a part of my leg to cover part of my arm.”

Lewis spent 20 days in the intensive care unit. If her cancer had been detected earlier, or if doctors had the ability to shrink her tumor, her ordeal would have been less painful and less risky. Only slightly more than half of all oral cancer patients are alive five years after their treatment. Lewis is four years out.

U.T. Health Science Center researchers are trying to secure funding for human trials which may take place in San Antonio. The pills used in this new combination target tumors specifically, so patients would not suffer as many side effects as they do with conventional chemotherapy, side effects like hair loss and gastrointestinal issues.

Dr. Cara Gonzales’ oral cancer paper was published in the journal Oral Oncology.
“If we can find something that would treat these advanced tumors, we could potentially increase the survival rate of approximately 25 percent of all oral cancer patients,” Gonzales stated.

Lewis is coping well with the side effects of surgery and radiation, but it hasn’t been easy. “Cancer takes over your life during that period of time. And it affects every single person you know,” Lewis said. “All of this could have been avoided with an early diagnosis.”

An oral cancer screening at the dentist only takes two minutes, and checking for oral cancer should be part of a regular dental screening. Like Lewis and thousands of others, though, you may have to insist the hygienist or dentist examine your mouth, tongue and gums in detail. Having a medical professional look for signs and symptoms of the disease is still the best defense against oral cancer which claims an average of one American life every hour.

October, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Troisi: Raising age on tobacco purchases would protect Texas children

Author: Catherine Troisi

Tobacco products are a known cancer-causing agent and responsible for one in three cancer deaths. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined — and thousands more die from smoking-related causes such as fires caused by smoldering cigarettes. E-cigarettes, often touted as a safer alternative, have not been well-studied and may contain unknown poisons.

We are not protecting our children from this danger. Unlike alcohol sales, where you have to be 21 years to purchase legally, adolescents and young adults 18 and over can purchase tobacco products. While the Texas Legislature wisely raised the age to buy e-cigarettes from 14 to 18 years last year, it’s time to look at raising the legal age for all tobacco products to 21.

The problem is not just those age 18 and older smoking. This young legal age to purchase makes it easier for children under age 18 to get access to cigarettes and other products. Each year, 19,000 Texas children under the age of 18 start smoking. In Texas, almost one out of every six high school students smokes — and over their lifetime, half a million Texans who started smoking under age 18 will ultimately die of tobacco-related diseases.

Most of us have someone in our family or know someone who has been affected by a tobacco-related disease. A colleague lost both parents and his only sibling as a result of smoking that began when they were teens. Each relative suffered for over a decade before finally succumbing to the effects of tobacco. His brother was 46 when he was diagnosed with oral cancer. Cancer took his jaw, tongue, teeth and ability to speak clearly and swallow. He suffered for 13 years before it took his life.

There’s also an economic impact. Smoking by children under age 18 costs the state almost $9 billion dollars in direct costs and each Texan household’s federal tax is increased by $756 per year, according to reports from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Imagine what we could do with that money both as a state and as individuals rather than use it for tobacco-related medical costs.

The tobacco industry knows that nine out of 10 smokers start before age 18 — and each day 3,200 children smoke their first cigarette. An estimated $636 million is spent on marketing to sell their harmful products just in Texas. Children are twice as sensitive to tobacco advertising as adults and more likely to be influenced to start smoking by these marketing tactics than they are by peer pressure. Tobacco companies have to get children smoking by age 18 — otherwise the odds that they will start are small.

Would raising the legal age to purchase actually stop children from getting these products? The tobacco company Phillip Morris thought so in a 1986 report: “Raising the legal minimum age for cigarette purchaser to 21 could gut our key young adult market (17-20)” The Institute of Medicine agreed in a 2015 report predicting that were the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products 21, over time, the adult smoking rate would decline by about 12 percent and smoking-related deaths would decline by ten percent. The report also states, “Although changes in the minimum age … will pertain to individuals who are 18 and older, the largest proportionate reduction …. will likely occur among adolescents of ages 15 to 17 years.” Research shows that kids often turn to older friends as sources of cigarettes. Raising the sale age to 21 would reduce the likelihood that a high school student will be able to legally purchase tobacco products for other students and underage friends.

The legal age for the purchase of tobacco products is set by states and in some cases counties. Hawaii became the first state to raise the tobacco sale age to 21 and just last week California joined them. At least 135 localities in nine states have also raised the tobacco age to 21.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration recently announced a “deeming rule,” which extends its authority to cover all tobacco products. However, the rule does not restrict online e-cigarette sales and marketing, including flavors such as “cotton candy” and “gummy bears” designed to entice youth.

As Texans, we want to protect our children and make sure they grow up healthy and safe. Raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 years is a proven strategy to do this. Let’s make it a priority to protect our families and communities — while saving money — by starting this discussion.

Note: Catherine Troisi is an epidemiologist at the UT Health School of Public Health in Houston.

A small revolution in cancer treatment by Belarusian and U.S. scientists

Author: Igor Belotserkovsky

Scientists from Belarus and the United States have developed a new method for detecting residual cancer cells. This method also contributes to their destruction. This is done with the help of nanobubbles generated in some cancer cells. The method was successfully tested on laboratory mice with implanted head and neck cancer cells. Although scientists are only at the beginning of the road, they call their discovery a small revolution in the fight against cancer.

The results of the research titled “Intraoperative diagnostics and elimination of residual microtumors with plasmonic nanobubbles” was published in the prestigious science journal Nature Nanotechnology on 15 February. To learn more about the successes of oncologists, BelTA talked to Igor Belotserkovsky, PhD in Medical Sciences, one of the authors of the research, the leader of the head and neck tumor research team at the Aleksandrov National Cancer Center.

Mr Belotserkovsky, what is the share of head and neck tumors in the structure of other localizations?
In the total structure of oncological morbidity, the share of head and neck tumors is 3-4% (excluding skin cancer). Larynx and oral cavity cancer are diagnosed most frequently. For example, in 2014 laryngeal cancer was detected in 604 Belarusians, oro-pharyngo-laryngeal cancer in 1,338 people. Men fall ill ten times more often.

Despite the fact that head and neck cancers are categorized as tumors of outside localization, many patients with cancer have their disease diagnosed when it has already reached an advanced stage. This is due to the social aspect. In most cases cancer patients are alcohol and smoking abusers. In 2014, 50% of laryngeal cancer cases were found at an early stage, as was 30% of cases of oral cavity cancer.

Why has it been decided to test the new method specifically on head and neck tumors?
Head and neck account for 9% of the total body surface area. Yet, this is where many important organs are located. If one of these organs is affected by cancer, oncologists have to work in a small body region. When removing a tumor, a surgeon cannot cut out much of the normal tissue surrounding it. He has to remove the parts affected by cancer and ensure no damage is done to vitally important structures.

For this reason, the radicality of head and neck cancer surgeries is strongly debated. Some reputable specialists believe that many head and neck surgeries are conditionally radical. We remove the visible tumor, and some unnoticed microscopic metastatic cancer cells may remain in the body. These cells cause cancer recurrences that are more difficult to treat, because they are more resistant to drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

What is special about this new treatment method?
Its breakthrough nature is seen in our ability to spot and eliminate residual cancer cells during the surgery, right after the removal of the visible tumor. Today there is no fast, accurate and safe method for detection of individual cancer cells and microtumors in the tumor removal zone to be used during the surgery.

The method is based on the utilization of gold nanoparticles and laser radiation to generate nanobubbles inside tumor cells. The nanobubbles, in turn, are detected with an acoustic probe. For this purpose, the gold nanoparticles are decorated with special antibodies that identify cancer cells and gather in clusters only around the tumor, thereby ensuring no damage is done to healthy tissue.

The approach has been successfully tested on lab mice. The animals of the research and control groups underwent the same operations to remove implanted head and neck tumors. With additional minimal surgery conducted after detection of residual cancer cells with plasmonic nanobubbles, the survival rate in the research group was 100%. Meanwhile, the control group mice underwent only a standard surgery and died of progressing tumor. By the way, nanobubbles helped eliminate inoperable microtumors.

The idea is to reduce the frequency of tumor recurrence. The procedure is as follows: a patient gets an injection with gold nanoparticles before the surgery. After the tumor is removed, the tumor bed is treated with laser which activates nanobubbles that quickly expand and burst, ripping apart the residual cancer cells.

We expect that the new method will help reduce the number of local recurrences. It will allow a maximum radical removal of tumors. Oncologists will be able to eliminate cancer cells, which may cause recurrences, at the microlevel.

When do you plan clinical tests?
We are ready to conduct the tests, here in Belarus. Our center has a high level of credibility in research. Foreign companies annually run nearly 30-40 clinical tests in the Aleksandrov National Cancer Center.

However, it is still early to talk about the date for clinical testing of the new method. There is a certain algorithm to follow. It can take up 3 to 4 years from research to the final product.

What are the prospects for the plasmonic nanobubbles technology?
Proceeding from the results of the experiment, we can say it is a small victory over cancer. However, I would like to reiterate that in interpreting our successes we do not go beyond the framework of the experiment. In the future this technology can be used to treat other types of cancer.

How long did the research take? Who financed the studies?
This is a Belarusian-U.S. project launched some three years ago. Dmitry Lapotko, head of laser science at medical nanotechnology group Masimo Corporation, is the leading researcher. The project was financed by Gillson Langenbough Foundation, Houston, TX and the National Science Foundation of the United States.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you every success with this important project.

February, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Oral cancer less likely in women who have more sex; but not the same for men

Author: Diane Ting

Having more sex partners reduces the chance of oral cancer for women. Unfortunately, men are more likely to become infected as the number of oral sex partners increases.

A study suggests that women who have more vaginal sex partners appear to have a lower risk of oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. The information was released during the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Throat and mouth cancer are linked to HPV, which is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases. HPV is rather common, as most people are treated of the virus within two years.

According to the study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), oral sex may increase the risk of head and neck cancer by 22 percent. In the last 20 years, the number of oral cancer patients has risen to 225 percent.

Oral cancer is typically linked to lifestyle causes such as heavy drinking and smoking, according to Mirror. Two in three sufferers of oral cancer were men, which made experts question the imbalance.

HPV is the same cancer that causes cervical cancer in women. Research states that because women are first exposed to HPV vaginally, they may develop an immune response that prevents them from getting the infection.

Unfortunately, research suggests that this may not be the same for men as they are found twice more likely to develop oral cancer. As the number of oral sex partners increase, the risk of oral HPV infections also increases. It is believed that oral sex may be the main cause at which the HPV ends up in the mouth. “Our research shows that once you become infected, men are less likely to clear this infection than women, further contributing for the cancer risk,” according to Gypsyamber D’Souza, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Oral sex can dramatically increase a person’s risk of the common human papillomavirus (HPV) by 22 times, which can eventually lead to cancer, according to a study. While HPV is very common and easily treatable, HPV may not go away in some cases particularly with men. In some rare instances, the virus can lead to cellular changes in the mouth and throat, which can lead to cancer.

Middle-aged white men are particularly at high risk compared to other races, according to Daily Mail. The US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) has highly recommended all pre-teenagers to take the HPV vaccination before they become sexually active.

February, 2016|Oral Cancer News|

Rodeo Insider: Cowboy takes it on himself to ride home a message

Author: Brett Hoffman
0125 rodeoBronc rider Cody Kiser is trying to encourage cowboys to abstain from tobacco. Richard W. Rodriguez Star-Telegram


In a day when rodeo riders are approaching the sport from an athletic standpoint more than ever, there’s a heavier emphasis on physical fitness and many competitors are taking a closer look at abstaining from substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

One cowboy attempting to send a message about abstaining from frequent tobacco consumption is bareback bronc rider Cody Kiser.

“A lot of these cowboys don’t smoke or chew, and if they do, it’s really rare,” Kiser said. “A lot of the guys consider themselves as athletes. So they want to keep their bodies at an optimum performance and they don’t want to do anything that would break them down.”

When the Fort Worth Stock Show conducted the opening performance of its 16-day Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show on Friday, Kiser turned in a bareback score of 80, the highest marking of the night.

As he competed in the renowned rodeo, Kiser wore a patch on his shirt that said: “Oral Cancer Foundation.”

The foundation’s website lists Kiser and a spokesman and states: “The western/rodeo environment has had a long-term relationship with tobacco, and until 2009 the PRCA had a lengthy history of tobacco sponsorship money. While that has ended, tobacco use, and smokeless/spit tobaccos still thrive in the sport. While adults have the right to make any lifestyle choice, they inadvertently expose impressionable young people to what are sometimes harmful habits though poor examples like the use of tobacco products. This is particularly harmful as kids look up to athletes.”

Kiser, 25, who is from Carson City, Nev., aspires to set a great example.

“My message is for the younger generation, to expand the sport of rodeo and help it become more mainstream,” he said. “Rodeo can be like NASCAR. When NASCAR started getting rid of most of their alcohol and tobacco sponsors and then started bringing in sponsors such as Tide and Kellogg, which are more family oriented, then the sport exploded. Today, there’s so much more money in NASCAR and it can become the same for rodeo.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

Depressed Head and Neck Cancer Patients Have Lower Survival and Higher Recurrence Risk

Author: Kathy Boltz, PhD

Depression is a significant predictor of 5-year survival and recurrence in patients with head and neck cancer, according to a new study published in Pyschosomatic Medicine (doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000256). These findings represent one of the largest studies to report on the impact of depression on cancer survival.

Although depression can have obvious detrimental effects on a person’s quality of life, its impact on cancer patients is more apparent, explained lead author Eileen Shinn, PhD, assistant professor of Behavioral Science at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. Increasing evidence shows modest associations between elevated symptoms of depression and greater risk for mortality among patients with lung, breast, ovarian, and kidney cancers.

The research team sought to clarify the influence of depression on survival, focusing their analysis on a single cancer type. By limiting the sample set and adjusting for factors known to affect outcome, such as age, tumor size, and previous chemotherapy, they were able to uncover a more profound impact of depression.

The researchers followed 130 patients at MD Anderson with newly diagnosed oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), a type of cancer in which the tumor originates at the back of the throat and base of the tongue.

At the beginning of their radiation therapy, Patients completed a validated questionnaire at the beginning of their radiation therapy to identify symptoms of clinical depression. Researchers monitored the participants, all of whom completed treatment, until their last clinic visit or death, a median period of 5 years.

“The results of this study were quite intriguing, showing depression was a significant factor predicting survival at 5 years, even after controlling for commonly accepted prognostic factors,” said senior author Adam Garden, MD, professor, Radiation Oncology. Furthermore, depression was the only factor shown to have a significant impact on survival.

Patients who scored as depressed on the questionnaire were 3.5 times less likely to have survived to the 5-year interval compared with those who did not score as depressed. The degree of depression was also found to be significant, as every unit increase on this scale indicated a 10% higher risk for reduced survival.

The results were replicated with a different psychological health survey and were not influenced by how soon following diagnosis the depression assessment was done.

OSCC is diagnosed in 10 000 to 15 000 Americans each year. Major risk factors known to be associated with OSCC include smoking and tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Incidence of OSCC has doubled in the last 20 years due to increasing HPV infection rates, noted Shinn.

Neither alcohol nor tobacco use, also surveyed in this group, had a significant impact on survival. HPV infection status, when available, also did not appear correlated.

Despite a high cure rate, normally 60% to 80%, recurrence rate of disease is unusually high in these patients (approximately 30%). The researchers also investigated a potential link between depression and disease recurrence.

“When we controlled for all variables, depression was linked with a nearly 4 times higher risk of recurrence,” said Shinn. In addition, never smokers had a 73% lower chance of recurrence, compared with current smokers. Those were the only two factors associated with cancer recurrence.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

December, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

E-cigarettes contain flavouring chemical linked to deadly ‘popcorn lung’

Source: The Telegraph
Author: Sarah Knapton, Science Editor


Public health experts are sharply divided about e‑cigarettes Photo: ALAMY


Three quarters of e-cigarettes tested by Harvard scientists contained the chemical diacetyl which is known to cause lung damage.

Vapers could be at risk of developing the deadly disease ‘popcorn lung’ after scientists found a toxic chemical in 75 per cent of flavoured electronic cigarettes. Diacetyl, a chemical which is used as a butter substitute in flavours like Cotton Candy and Cupcake, has been linked to respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans

Although it is thought to be safe when eaten, the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has said it could be hazardous when inhaled over a long period.

It follows incidences in several factories which manufacture microwave popcorn where workers developed bronchiolitis obliterans.

Diacetyl is known to cause inflammation, scarring and constriction of the tiny airways in the lung known as bronchioles, reducing air flow. There is currently no known cure except for a lung transplantation. Researchers said ‘urgent action’ was needed to ‘evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavoured e-cigarettes.’

“Recognition of the hazards associated with inhaling flavouring chemicals started with ‘Popcorn Lung’ over a decade ago,” said lead author Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“However, diacetyl and other related flavouring chemicals are used in many other flavours beyond butter-flavoured popcorn, including fruit flavours, alcohol flavours, and, we learned in our study, candy flavoured e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine hit via inhalable vapor without the tar and other carcinogens in inhaled tobacco smoke.

Scientists and health officials are divided over whether they are safe. Earlier this year Public Health England urged smokers to switch to vaping, saying e-cigarettes were far safer than traditional tobacco. But the World Health Organisation and scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool remain concerned about their safety.

Dr. Allen and colleagues tested 51 types of flavoured e-cigarettes and liquids sold by leading brands for the presence of diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione, two related flavouring compounds which may pose a respiratory hazard in the workplace.

VAPING_2873974bVapers enjoy different flavours at Vape Lab in Shoreditch, London  Photo: JANE MINGAY FOR THE TELEGRAPH


Each e-cigarette was inserted into a sealed chamber attached to a lab-built device that drew air through the e-cigarette for eight seconds at a time with a resting period of 15 or 30 second between each draw. The air stream was then analyzed.

At least one of the three chemicals was detected in 47 of the 51 flavours tested. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection in 39 of the flavours tested. Acetoin and 2,3-pentanedione were detected in 46 and 23 and of the flavours, respectively.

“Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes” said study co-author Dr David Christiani, Professor of Environmental Genetics.

“In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavouring chemicals that can cause lung damage.”

Although the study was conducted in the US, last year Greek researchers found that diacetyl was present in 70 per cent of European brands. American brands are also available online.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

At a glance: Are e-cigarettes helpful or harmful?


  • Public health officials are at odds with scientists over whether or not e-cigarettes are safe
  • In August, Public Health England issued a report concluding that e-cigarettes were 95 per cent less harmful than conventional tobacco and urged Britain’s eight million smokers to start vaping.
  • But health experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool claim evidence used in the report was flawed, based on inconclusive evidence which was tainted by vested interests.
  • Writing in the BMJ, Professor Martin McKee and Professor Simon Capewell said there was no reliable evidence to show that e-cigarettes were safe or that they did not provide a ‘gateway’ to smoking for youngsters.
  • Although the PHE report was welcomed by bodies like Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Royal College of Physicians of London, other leading health bodies – including the British Medical Association, the UK Faculty of Public Health, the European Commission and the World Health Organization, have expressed caution.


Nearly 80,000 people a year die of a smoking related illness and smoking costs the NHS £2 billion a year. 2.6 million people use e-cigarettes in the UK and they are now the most popular quitting aid.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

December, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Researchers Find Hookah Smoking Can Lead to Serious Oral Conditions – Equivalent To Smoking 100 Cigarettes

Author: PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Oct. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.3 million Americans smoke tobacco from pipes, and many of those who smoke waterpipes, or hookahs, believe it’s less harmful than cigarettes. However, research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) suggests hookah smoking is associated with serious oral conditions including gum diseases and cancer.

“We found that waterpipe smoking is associated with serious health problems affecting the head and neck region,” said study author Teja Munshi, B.D.S., M.P.H of Rutgers University. “The public needs to know they are putting themselves at risk. They should be made aware of the dangers of smoking hookahs.”

The authors conducted a literature review that focused on waterpipe smoking and head and neck conditions. They found waterpipe smoking to be associated with gum diseases, dry socket, oral cancer and esophageal cancer among other conditions. According to the World Health Organization, smoking a hookah is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes, based on the duration and number of puffs in a smoking session.

“This study sheds light on the common misconception that smoking from a waterpipe is somehow safer than smoking a cigarette,” said JADA Editor Michael Glick, D.M.D. “Whether you are smoking a cigarette, an e-cigarette, a cigar, or tobacco from a waterpipe, smoking is dangerous not only to your oral health but to your overall health.”

The American Cancer Society is hosting The Great American Smokeout on November 19, 2015, an annual event that encourages smokers of all kinds to give up the habit. The event asks smokers to quit even for just one day to take a step toward a healthier life.

Millions of Americans still use traditional methods of smoking, but emerging trends in the smoking industry, such as hookah smoking and e-cigarettes pose dangers as well. E-cigarettes are devices that turn liquid into a vapor containing nicotine. In an editorial in the September 2015 issue of JADA, authors warned readers of the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, indicating that oral health effects of their use has been inadequately investigated.

“Additional research is needed on the impact smoking has on overall health, but it’s clear that smoking of all kinds has the potential to be dangerous,” said Dr. Glick.

Dentists have an important role in advising patients of the dangers of smoking. The American Dental Association has long been a proponent of educating the public about its hazards and has urged for continued research into the adverse health effects of tobacco use. For more information on smoking and its oral health effects, visit


This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

October, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Athletes drive increase in high schoolers’ use of smokless tobacco, CDC study shows

Author: web staff


High-school athletes are using more smokeless tobacco, even though overall tobacco use among high-school students has declined, according to a study published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We can do more to protect America’s youth from a lifetime of addiction,” Tom Frieden, CDC director, said in a press release. “The fact is, smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, snuff or dip, can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas. And the nicotine in these products is harmful to the developing brain. Because we know tobacco-free policies in schools and other public recreational areas work, we must take action now so that our children are safe from these toxins.”

Student responses to the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2001 through 2013 show that the share reporting any tobacco use dropped to 22.4 percent from 33.9 percent, and the rate of those smoking combustible tobacco products dropped to 19.5 percent from 31.5 percent. However, those who reported using smokeless tobacco products increased to 8.8 percent from 8.2 percent.

The increased use of smokeless tobacco was driven by athletes. The rate among non-athletes remained unchanged at 5.9 percent but has “increased significantly” to 11.1 percent from 10 percent in youth athletes.

Researchers suggest that athletes are aware of the adverse consequences of smoking on athletic performance, but may view smokeless tobacco as “less harmful, socially acceptable, or even a way to enhance athletic performance.”

The 2013 YRBS found that 26.3 percent of Kentucky’s high school youth reported any use of tobacco; 17.9 percent were smoking cigarettes, and 13.2 percent reported using smokeless tobacco.

“Tobacco use among youth athletes is of particular concern because most adult tobacco users first try tobacco before age 18,” Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, said in a press release. “The younger people are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they are to become addicted and the more heavily addicted they can become.”

The reports calls for increased education about the dangers of smokeless tobacco; recognition that the tobacco industry pushes smokeless tobacco as an alternative to smoking where it is prohibited; that the role of professional athletes, many who use smokeless tobacco, must be part of the discussion because they are often considered role models by youth; and that “implementing and enforcing tobacco-free policies that prohibit all tobacco use on school campuses and at all public recreational facilities, including stadiums, parks, and school gymnasiums, by players, coaches, referees, and fans might help reduce tobacco use among student athletes.”

As of September, Kentucky had 47 school districts with comprehensive tobacco free policies. These policies cover 45 percent of Kentucky’s students and represents 27 percent of the school districts in the state, according to the Kentucky 100% Tobacco Free Schools website.

“Creating 100 percent tobacco-free environments is one of the best ways we can set our kids up for a healthy future,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said in the release. “It helps them see that being tobacco-free is the way to better health and a longer life.”


*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

October, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

Alternative Tobacco Products as a Second Front in the War on Tobacco

Authors: Samir Soneji, PhD; James D. Sargent, MD; Susanne E. Tanski, MD, MPH; Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD

Associations Between Initial Water Pipe Tobacco Smoking and Snus Use and Subsequent Cigarette Smoking: Results From a Longitudinal Study of US Adolescents and Young Adults

Importance Many adolescents and young adults use alternative tobacco products, such as water pipes and snus, instead of cigarettes.

Objective To assess whether prior water pipe tobacco smoking and snus use among never smokers are risk factors for subsequent cigarette smoking.

Design, Setting, and Participants We conducted a 2-wave national longitudinal study in the United States among 2541 individuals aged 15 to 23 years old. At baseline (October 25, 2010, through June 11, 2011), we ascertained whether respondents had smoked cigarettes, smoked water pipe tobacco, or used snus. At the 2-year follow-up (October 27, 2012, through March 31, 2013), we determined whether baseline non–cigarette smokers had subsequently tried cigarette smoking, were current (past 30 days) cigarette smokers, or were high-intensity cigarette smokers. We fit multivariable logistic regression models among baseline non–cigarette smokers to assess whether baseline water pipe tobacco smoking and baseline snus use were associated with subsequent cigarette smoking initiation and current cigarette smoking, accounting for established sociodemographic and behavioral risk factors. We fit similarly specified multivariable ordinal logistic regression models to assess whether baseline water pipe tobacco smoking and baseline snus use were associated with high-intensity cigarette smoking at follow-up.

Exposures Water pipe tobacco smoking and the use of snus at baseline.

Main Outcomes and Measures Among baseline non–cigarette smokers, cigarette smoking initiation, current (past 30 days) cigarette smoking at follow-up, and the intensity of cigarette smoking at follow-up.

Results Among 1596 respondents, 1048 had never smoked cigarettes at baseline, of whom 71 had smoked water pipe tobacco and 20 had used snus at baseline. At follow-up, accounting for behavioral and sociodemographic risk factors, baseline water pipe tobacco smoking and snus use were independently associated with cigarette smoking initiation (adjusted odds ratios: 2.56; 95% CI, 1.46-4.47 and 3.73; 95% CI, 1.43-9.76, respectively), current cigarette smoking (adjusted odds ratios: 2.48; 95% CI, 1.01-6.06 and 6.19; 95% CI, 1.86-20.56, respectively), and higher intensity of cigarette smoking (adjusted proportional odds ratios: 2.55; 95% CI, 1.48-4.38 and 4.45; 95% CI, 1.75-11.27, respectively).

Conclusions and Relevance Water pipe tobacco smoking and the use of snus independently predicted the onset of cigarette smoking and current cigarette smoking at follow-up. Comprehensive Food and Drug Administration regulation of these tobacco products may limit their appeal to youth and curb the onset of cigarette smoking.

JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(2):129-136. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2697

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.


October, 2015|Oral Cancer News|