4 Behaviors That May Increase Your Risk of Throat Cancer

Posted June 15, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

Throat cancer can be a very serious condition that affects the throat, voice box, and tonsils. There are a number of reasons why someone might develop throat cancer, and it can just be something that is down to ‘bad luck’ and chance, but there are some behaviors that might increase your risk. Knowing what they are and then reducing them – or ideally eliminating them from your life altogether – is a great course of action. With that in mind, read on to find out what some of these behaviors are so you can stop them as soon as possible. 


As might be expected, smoking is possibly the most well-known risk when it comes to throat cancer. Every time you smoke a cigarette (or cigar, or any tobacco product), the harmful chemicals in the tobacco, which includes carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), will damage the cells in the lining of your throat. This can cause those cells to mutate and become cancerous. 

Smokers are at a much higher risk of developing throat cancer than anyone else, so quitting smoking will mean you cut your risk dramatically. On top of this, when you stop smoking, you’ll be much healthier in general, and you’ll also cut your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and more. 

Excessive Alcohol Consumption 

Another behavior that is definitely linked to having a greater chance of developing throat cancer and needing the assistance of the experts at the Moffitt Cancer Center is drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. 

The reason behind this is that alcohol acts as a kind of solvent, and it burns the lining of the throat. Therefore, too much alcohol can mean that the throat is permanently damaged (it never has time to heal itself), which means the harmful chemicals in the tobacco smoke can more easily get into the lining of the throat and cause damage to the cells. 

As well as this, alcohol can cause problems with the immune system, meaning that once you do become ill, it is harder to fight off the infection, and it takes longer to recover. 

Poor Nutrition 

If you have a poor diet that is lacking in essential nutrients, you’ll have lots of different problems linked to your health, and, as we mentioned above, your immune system will not work as it should. This will make you much more susceptible to throat cancer, as well as plenty of other diseases and conditions. 

If you can stop eating badly and ensure your diet is full of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and whole grains, your body can help protect itself and make enough antioxidants to fight off cancer cells before they can spread. Ideally, you should limit (or entirely cut out) processed food and food with a high sugar content, as these are particularly dangerous when it comes to causing cancer. 

Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV)

Human papillomavirus infection (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that is linked to a variety of different cancers, including throat cancer. If you have unprotected sex and/or have multiple sexual partners, your chances of catching this virus are increased, which means your chances of developing throat cancer are also increased. 

It is possible to get an HPV vaccination, which is certainly recommended for men and women, but practicing safe sex is also very important. 

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