Stress may lead to mouth cancer

London: More than one in three Brits admit to alleviating stress by drinking and one in five by smoking, but nearly two out of three were unable to identify both of these as leading causes of mouth cancer.

The new research, conducted for Mouth Cancer Awareness Week (12-18 November) by dental payment plan company Denplan found that while most Brits could identify smoking as a cause of mouth cancer, nearly two-thirds could not identify drinking as a leading risk factor of the disease.

Moreover, respondents in the most at-risk age group for contracting the disease (those aged 45 and older) were the least able to identify smoking and drinking as a major cause of mouth cancer.

Almost half of those questioned admitted to feeling stressed at least oncea day and, given the high percentage of those who turn to cigarettes and alcohol to cope, this indicates that the prevalence of mouth cancer in the UK may be linked to the way we relieve the pressures of modern life. 4,400 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK, and the disease kills more than 1,700 annually.

Although Brits regularly drink and smoke as an escape from the stresses of jobs, family life and other commitments, more than 20 per cent did not recognise one of the early warning signs of the disease, an ulcer that does not heal, and a quarter of people would not go to the dentist if they had a mouth ulcer that persisted for weeks.

The results suggest a worrying lack of awareness, and a danger that today’s over-stressed population may be in for a big health scare later in life. The chances of surviving mouth cancer can increase from 50 per cent to nearly 90 per cent if they are detected and treated early.

Dr. Henry Clover, Dental Advisor for dental payment plan company Denplan, said: “While alcohol and cigarettes may help alleviate feelings of stress in the short-term, over time this lifestyle can pose a serious health risk and significantly increase the likelihood of developing mouth cancer.

“As people are increasingly resorting to these methods of relieving stress, it is becoming more and more important that they are able to identify early symptoms of the disease. The most common of these are long lasting sores or ulcers, white or red patches on the gums, tongue or the lining of the mouth
and difficulty swallowing.”

The research also found that: * 44% of 25 – 34 year olds regularly have a drink if they have had a stressful day compared to the 35% who relieve stress through exercise * Seven out of ten respondents over 55 could not name drinking as a majorcause of mouth cancer * When asked to identify common symptoms of the disease, 21% of respondents could not identify an ulcer lasting longer than 2 weeks; and 44% were not able to identify the appearance of white or red patches on the inside of the mouth * Nearly half of us admit to feeling stressed once a day

About the research:- The research was carried out for Denplan by from the 22nd September to the 5th October 2006 using a survey sample base of 1783.

About AXA AXA is a world leader in financial protection. AXA’s operations are diverse with major operations in Western Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific area. AXA employs 120,000 staff and tied agents and, as of 31 December 2005, had €1,064 billion in assets under management. AXA reported total IFRS revenues of €72 billion and IFRS underlying earnings of €3,258 million for the full year 2005. Our previous company performance is not a guide to how we may perform in the future.

AXA ordinary shares are listed on the Paris Stock Exchange; AXA American Depositary Shares (ADSs) are listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol AXA. About Denplan Denplan Ltd., part of the AXA Group, is the UK’s leading dental plan provider with an approximately 80% market share. Denplan has more than 6,000 member dentists nationwide (around a third of General Dental Practitioners) and over 1.6 million registered patients. The company was established in 1986 by two dentists who pioneered the concept of dental payment plans.

Today Denplan provides a range of plans for adults and children, enabling patients to spread the cost of their dental care through a fixed monthly fee. Denplan supports regular attendance and preventive care, reducing the need for clinical intervention and helping patients to maintain healthy teeth and gums for life. Denplan Care: all routine and restorative care + worldwide dental A & E cover Denplan Essentials: routine care only + worldwide dental A & E cover Plans for Children: routine and other agreed care + worldwide dental A & E

Denplan Emergency: worldwide dental A & E cover only Denplan Enhance: interest-free patient loans of £250 – £25,000 for dental treatment Company Dental Plans: company funded, voluntary and flexible benefit
schemes Denplan also provides a range of professional services for its member dentists, including the Denplan Quality Programme, Denplan Excel
accreditation programme and Denplan Training. Patient enquiries telephone: 0800 401 402 Dentist enquiries telephone: 0800 328 3223