Reducing your risk for laryngeal cancer

You may lower your risk of developing laryngeal cancer by doing the following.

Be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke

If you smoke, get help to quit. Quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke reduce the risk for laryngeal cancer.

Limit alcohol

Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing laryngeal cancer. Drinking alcohol together with smoking tobacco increases the risk for laryngeal and other head and neck cancers more than either one alone. To reduce your cancer risk, it's best not to drink alcohol. Canada's Guidance on Alcohol and Health outlines the health risks of alcohol and can help you make an informed decision on whether you drink and how much.

If you choose to drink alcohol, keep your cancer risk as low as possible by having no more than 2 standard drinks a week. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your cancer risk.

Find out more about how to limit alcohol.

Protect yourself from carcinogens

Find out more about substances that cause cancer and how you can avoid them in your workplace or home.

Being around asbestos or sulphuric acid at work is a risk factor for developing laryngeal cancer. Follow occupational health and safety measures and wear appropriate equipment to help reduce your risk. If you have asbestos in your home, use experts to remove it safely.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating vegetables and fruit may lower your risk of developing laryngeal cancer. Vegetables and fruit, along with other foods, give your body a balance of vitamins and minerals. The best way to get the nutrition and health benefits from vegetables and fruit is through food, not vitamin pills. Follow Canada’s Food Guide to ensure you are eating enough vegetables and fruit.

Eating a lot of animal products, processed meat and fat may increase your risk of developing laryngeal cancer. Lowering the amount of these types of foods in your diet may help reduce your risk.

Get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV)

The 3 HPV vaccines available in Canada are Gardasil, Cervarix and Gardasil 9. These vaccines help protect against infection with HPV-16 and HPV-18, the 2 types of HPV most commonly linked with cancer. Gardasil 9 also protects against 5 other types of HPV that can cause cancer.

By preventing infection with HPV, these vaccines help lower the risk for HPV-related cancers, such as cervical cancer. They may also help reduce the risk for other cancers linked to HPV, including cancers of the mouth and throat, although this has not been studied directly.

Get vaccinated or have your children vaccinated through school-based programs where available. If you are not eligible for a free vaccination, talk to your doctor about which vaccine is right for you and when you should have it.

Reduce your exposure to HPV

People who have oral sex and multiple sexual partners have a higher risk for HPV infection of the mouth. HPV infections can cause cancers in the pharynx and may cause cancers in the larynx.

The only sure way to prevent HPV infection is to completely avoid any genital contact with another person. If you are young, delay having sex. If you are sexually active, you can also reduce your risk by:

  • having as few sexual partners as possible
  • being in a monogamous relationship with someone who hasn’t had a lot of sexual partners
  • using condoms

Using a condom can lower the risk for HPV infection if it is put on before skin-to-skin sexual contact. But areas not covered by a condom still allow some skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. So using condoms will reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of HPV infection.

More information about preventing cancer

Learn what you can do to prevent cancer.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers. 2014:
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention. 2015:
  • National Toxicology Program . 14th Report on Carcinogens . Department of Health and Human Services ; 2016 .
  • Olshan AF . Cancer of the larynx. Schottenfeld, D. & Fraumeni, J. F. Jr. (eds.). Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006: 32: pp. 627-637.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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