Sugary drinks a common factor for oral diseases, finds lancet study
Growing consumption of sugary drinks, especially in low and middle income countries, as well as tobacco and alcohol use, are a common risk factor for developing oral diseases, including oral cancer that is a leading cause of cancer deaths among men in India and Sri Lanka, a new Lancet study has said.
“Although the consumption of sugary drinks is highest in North America, Latin America, Australasia, and Western Europe, sales are now falling in many high-income countries, and instead substantial growth is expected in many low-income and middle-income countries,” said the report released on Thursday.
Oral diseases include a range of conditions that affect the teeth and mouth, including tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancers.
“We aren’t saying sugar is bad but it’s the excessive use that is harmful. A 250ml of sweetened beverage has about 1.5 times more of your daily acceptable dose of sugar. Regular consumption of such high doses of sugar is extremely harmful for oral health,” said Manu Raj Mathur, head, health policy, Public Health Foundation of India, and co-author of the study.
Oral diseases that are chronic and progressive in nature are affecting 3.5 billion people worldwide.
Lip and oral cavity cancers are among the 15 most common cancers worldwide, with at least half a million people developing some form of oral cancer in 2018, according to the report.
In India, oral disorders are the most prevalent disease condition and have remained so for the past 30 years. Prevalence of oral cancer is highest in South Asian countries. “Maximum cases of oral cancer come from India,” said Mathur.
To know the exact disease burden in a country with rapidly increasing cases of mouth cancer, the Union ministry of health and family welfare recently commissioned the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to do a national-level survey.
In middle-income countries, oral care systems are often underdeveloped and unaffordable to the majority. In low-income countries, the situation is bleak, with even basic dental care unavailable and most diseases remaining untreated. Coverage for oral health care ranges from 35% in low-income countries, 60% in lower-middle, 75% in upper-middle, and 82% in high-income countries.
“Dental treatment is very expensive but maintaining oral health by way of maintaining oral hygiene and abstaining from items that harm oral health is cost-effective. About 95% dental diseases are preventable, so we need to make masses aware,” said Dr Mahesh Verma, director, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences.
“Having said that, we do need expansion of dental services because of the high disease burden,” he added.