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Smoking linked to head, neck cancer

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Doctors have discovered that head and neck cancer is largely linked to smoking, and for women, the risk is extremely high. More than a half million cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed each year worldwide. These include cancers of the nose, mouth, throat and larynx. A new study reveals that many head and neck cancers are the direct result of smoking. Doctors followed more than 470,000 people for five years to determine cancer rates. They found that men were more likely to be diagnosed with head and neck cancer than women, but that cases in women were more strongly linked to smoking. Forty-five percent of the cases in men were attributed to smoking, compared with 75 percent of the cases in women. Previous research has also linked chewing tobacco to an increased chance of oral cancer. Experts say that cutting out all forms of tobacco is the best way to reduce the odds of head and neck cancers, but for women, it may be especially important. Other studies have found that limiting sun exposure decreases the risk as well, and preliminary research suggests the new cervical cancer vaccine may also reduce the chance of throat cancer.

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