Learn More About Oral Cancers

Oral cancers include cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), nasal cavity and pharynx (throat). The pharynx is the muscular cavity leading from the nose and mouth to the larynx, a muscular structure at the upper area of the windpipe, which includes the vocal cords.

Cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx are approximately three times more common in men than in women, which may in part be related to higher rates of smoking in men. Risk increases with age.

AICR’S latest report on oral cancers found that maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk. Drinking alcohol and using tobacco can increase your risk.

Lifestyle and Oral Cancers Risk

Alcohol: Consumption of alcoholic drinks is a convincing cause of cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx.

  • For oral cavity cancer and for oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer combined, a stronger association was observed in women.
  • The precise mechanisms underlying the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx are not completely understood.

Weight: Excess body fatness puts you at greater risk for oral cancers.

  • Further research is needed on the mechanisms. But obesity has also been shown to stimulate the inflammatory response, which may promote cancer development.
  • Obesity influences hormones and endocrine functions that may contribute to the growth of cancer cells.


  • Smoking (or use of smokeless tobacco) is a cause of cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx.
  • It is estimated that as much as 90 per cent of mouth cancers worldwide are attributable to tobacco use, alcohol consumption or a combination of both.