Can Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Oral Cancer Risk?

Can Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Oral Cancer Risk?

In the battle against oral cancer, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to things that we shouldn’t do – like using tobacco. When health experts do focus their attention on positive steps that we can take to reduce the risk of oral cancer, they tend to emphasize things like brushing, flossing, and the use of antibacterial mouthwash. As important as that daily oral hygiene regiment is, however, it is vital to recognize that other things contribute to oral health as well. That includes the food we eat. And where food is concerned, there are few choices more effective for battling oral cancer than fruits and vegetables.

The Scientists Agree with Mom

At some point in life, most of us had parents that told us to eat our fruits and vegetables. A good number of us ignored that advice, preferring sweet treats and other delicacies to those staples of nutrition. Well, it turns out that our parents were right to urge us to eat more of those nutritional foods, and not just because they give us better health on a whole-body basis. Scientists now tell us that those nutrient-packed food choices can improve oral health as well.

For the last half-century, scientists have been studying how various fruits and vegetables impact oral health, with an emphasis on understanding their effect on oral cancer risk. A decade ago, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of those studies, and concluded that there is more than enough evidence to suggest that fruits and vegetables can play an important role in preventing those cancerous effects. Citrus fruits were found to be especially beneficial in that regard.

Why Fruits and Vegetables?

The most obvious question to ask is why fruits and vegetables are so important to oral health. According to scientists, the mechanisms used to provide these protections are not yet clear, but there’s reason to believe that various critical compounds found in these foods make them more effective at preventing cancers than other food groups.

For example, fruits and vegetables both contain vital vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin E. These vitamins have antioxidant properties that guard against the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Both food groups also contain something known as phytonutrients that can actively work to prevent cancers from forming.

In their tests, scientists have concluded that citrus fruits can aid in cellular progression, and that the ellagic acid in some berries can actively ward off oral cancer. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain isothiocyanates that can provide similar protections. To receive the most benefits from these food groups, patients should consume five to six servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

At Ebenezer Dental, we believe that it is critical for our patients to know that their diets can be just as important as their daily dental hygiene regimen. To protect your mouth against decay, oral cancer, and other threats, we recommend that you follow nutritionists’ guidelines and consume the recommended allotment of fruits and vegetables each day. To learn how your diet can help to safeguard your oral health, schedule an appointment with the best dentist in Midtown Manhattan today!