Causes of Gum Cancer

What are some of the most common causes of gum cancer?

The main causes of gum cancer are the same as those for other types of oral cancer. All forms of smoked and smokeless tobacco and the excessive use of alcohol are all common causes of gum cancer. Studies have shown that using tobacco or alcohol increases your risk of developing gum cancer but using both significantly increases your risk. While scientists and doctors know that alcohol and tobacco are causes of gum cancer, other possible risk factors have been identified. These include ill fitting dentures, poor diet, poor dental health and genetics.

Tobacco as a cause of gum cancer

Tobacco damages the cells that line the gums and the rest of the oral cavity. These cells must then rapidly reproduce to repair the damage sometimes resulting in damage to the DNA of the cells. Among other problems damaged DNA can create, it keeps the cells from dying like they should leading to the development of tumors, which can be cancerous (but are not always).

According to the American Cancer society 1 in every 5 deaths is tobacco related. The Oral Cancer Foundation says that tobacco is the top cause of all types of oral cancer, including gum cancer, and it kills more Americans every year than AIDS, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, homicides, suicides, care accidents and fires combined. Not only is tobacco known to cause gum cancer, it is also known to cause cancer in all parts of the oral cavity, throat, lungs, bladder, pancreas, kidneys and stomach to name a few. Tobacco is the most preventable cause of cancer, but everyday more and more individuals are putting themselves at risk.

For more information on tobacco as one of the top causes of gum cancer visit this link from the Oral Cancer Foundation.

The Tobacco Connection

Alcohol as a cause of gum cancer

Like tobacco, alcohol is known to damage the lining of your mouth leading to the possible development of cancer cells in your gums. Studies have shown that excessive consumption of alcohol (which is consistently drinking more two drinks a day for men and more than one a day for women) can significantly increase your likelihood of developing gum cancer. Alcohol acts as an irritant and can harm cells in the gums that are trying to repair themselves. This can damage the cells’ DNA, which can then lead to the possible development of cancer cells. It is believed that alcohol acts as a solvent that better helps the harmful chemicals in tobacco penetrate into cells, significantly increasing the chance of cancer cell development in those that drink and use tobacco.

Are you putting yourself at risk?

If you regularly use tobacco and alcohol be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of gum cancer and go to the doctor if you spot anything irregular. Visit our Gum Cancer Symptoms page for more information on what to look for.

Visit our page with more information on Gum Cancer Prevention to learn how to best prevent the development of the disease. We also provide a number of links to help you quit tobacco.

What if I need more information on the causes of gum cancer?

For more information on the causes of gum cancer and all types of oral cancer visit the links below.


Tobacco Connection, The. The Oral Cancer Foundation. Accessed January 18, 2012.

Tobacco-Related Cancers Fact Sheet. American Cancer Society. Accessed January 18, 2012.

Alcohol Use and Cancer. American Cancer Society. Accessed January 18, 2012


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    All content on this site is for general information purposes only. It is not and should not be considered medical advice or used in place of the advice of a medical professional. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other professional for any medical condition.