Study finds no correlation between poor oral hygiene and HPV-positive oral cancer

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Study finds no correlation between poor oral hygiene and HPV-positive oral cancer

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The research is the first of its kind to explore the impact of poor oral hygiene on oral HPV infections. (Photograph: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

Thu. 18. April 2019

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ATLANTA, U.S.: Poor oral health and hygiene are known risk factors for oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Researchers have now found that poor oral health behaviors, such as infrequent dental visits and dental flossing, are associated with increased risk of HPV-negative but not with HPV-positive OSCC.

The study included patients with newly diagnosed OSCC at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center between 2011 and 2014, 117 of which had HPV-positive cancers and 114 HPV-negative. Controls were patients without cancer from the same outpatient clinic who were matched to each case.

An analysis of oral health behaviors of each group showed that visiting a dental clinic less than once a year and brushing their teeth less than once per day significantly increased risk of HPV-negative OSCC. In addition, gingival bleeding, tooth loss and denture use significantly increased risk of HPV-negative OSCC. None of these increased risk of HPV-positive OSCC. The findings are consistent with the researchers’ hypothesis that poor oral health behaviors alter oral microbial composition to promote chronic inflammation and the development of HPV-negative OSCC.

Factors such as low education level, low income level, heavy smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol were associated with increased risk of HPV-negative OSCC. The factors associated with increased risk of HPV-positive OSCC were low education level, a high rate of marijuana use and a high number of oral sex partners.

The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019 in Atlanta on March 29—April 3.

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