Alcohol is a risk factor for oral squamous cell carcinoma. It enhances the permeability of the oral epithelium, acts as a solvent for tobacco carcinogens, induces basal-cell proliferation, and generates free radicals and acetaldehyde, which have the capacity to cause DNA damage. Alcohol-associated malnutrition and immune suppression may further promote carcinogenesis. However, acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of ethanol, is the critical agent by which prolonged and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Alcohol also acts synergistically with the products of tobacco combustion in the pathogenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
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