Poor oral health and failure to have regular dental checks could increase the risk of mouth and throat cancer, according to a pan-European study. One of the partners of the study was the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS) at the University of Bremen, Germany (Prof. Wolfgang Ahrens). It was coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The research also suggests – based on a small number of tumour patients – that excessive use of mouthwash may also cause this particular form of cancer. Excessive use is defined as more than three times a day.
It has been established for some time that smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, particularly in combination, are strongly related to mouth and throat cancers. Low socio-economic status is also recognised as a contributory factor. Now, however, a new study has identified new risk factors for upper aerodigestive tract cancer (cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx and esophagus).
The study of 1,962 patients with mouth and throat cancers, with a further 1,993 people used as comparison control subjects, was conducted in 13 centres across nine countries and supported by EU funding.
Prof. Wolfgang Ahrens, Deputy Director of the BIPS and professor of epidemiological research methods at the University of Bremen said: “These results are really important. Up until now, it was not really known if these dental risk factors were independent of the well known risks for mouth and throat cancers – smoking, alcohol and low socioeconomic status.”
The researchers were able to strip out the causation factors of smoking, alcohol and socio-economic factors, and still found there was a connection between poor oral health and increased risk of mouth and throat cancers.
The findings are highly “nuanced” and there is an interconnectedness of many of the risk factors, he stressed, but there was now evidence that poor oral health and poor dental care were also part of the picture.
The definition of poor oral health included people who had complete or part dentures, people with persistently bleeding gums.
“People should not assume that if they wear dentures and have none of their own teeth left, they have no need to see a dentist,” said Dr David Conway, Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow Dental School and one of the senior authors of the study. “On the contrary, even if you have got dentures, you should make sure you go for regular check-ups,” he said.
People with poor dental care were defined as those who hardly ever or never brushed their teeth or visited the dentist. The frequency of dental visits should be determined by a dentist’s risk assessment and if people fell into the low risk category it could be once a year or even every two years, said Dr Conway.
“It is not a case of ‘one size fits all’. Visits could be six-monthly, but certainly not five-yearly,” Dr. Conway added.
The possible role of mouthwash as a causative factor would require further research, said Professor Ahrens. There might be a relationship between excessive use of mouthwash and people who used it to mask the smell of smoking and alcohol. Nevertheless, the researchers found that “frequent use of mouthwashes (3-plus times per day) was associated with an elevated risk of developing mouth and throat cancer”, although they were unable to analyse the types of mouthwash used many years ago by participants in the study.
Dr Conway said: “I would not advise routine use of mouthwash, full stop. There are occasions and conditions for which a dentist could prescribe a mouthwash – it could be that a patient has a low salivary flow because of a particular condition or medicine they are taking. But for me, all that’s necessary in general is good regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing combined with regular check-ups by a dentist.”
The research group, which includes collaborators from Germany, UK, Estonia, Switzerland, Greece, the Czech Republic, Italy, Norway, Spain, USA, Croatia, Ireland and France, has recently received a new tranche of funding from the EU and WHO’s International Agency for Research of Cancer, which will be used to research prognostic factors as well as risk factors.
Published online in Oral Oncology on 26th March 2014:
Title: "Oral health, dental care and mouthwash associated with upper aerodigestive tract cancer risk in Europe: the ARCAGE (Alcohol-Related Cancers and Genetic-susceptibility in Europe) study"
Contact in Germany:
University of Bremen
Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS
Professor Dr Wolfgang Ahrens
Phone: +49 (0)421 218-56822
Mobile: +49 (0)172-408-8706
Meike Mossig | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Is Marriage Good or Bad for the Figure?
29.06.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
Fructose produces less rewarding sensations in the brain
25.06.2015 | Universität Basel
Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.
The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this...
New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions
A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.
Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...
A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...
The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...
25.06.2015 | Event News
16.06.2015 | Event News
11.06.2015 | Event News
02.07.2015 | Press release
02.07.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering
02.07.2015 | Earth Sciences