Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why Do Women Get More Cavities than Men?

14.10.2008
Reproduction pressures and rising fertility explain why women suffered a more rapid decline in dental health than did men as humans transitioned from hunter-and-gatherers to farmers and more sedentary pursuits, says a University of Oregon anthropologist.

The conclusion follows a comprehensive review of records of the frequencies of dental cavities in both prehistoric and living human populations from research done around the world. A driving factor was dramatic changes in female-specific hormones, reports John R. Lukacs, a professor of anthropology who specializes in dental, skeletal and nutritional issues.

His conclusions are outlined in the October issue of Current Anthropology. The study examined the frequency of dental caries (cavities) by sex to show that women typically experience poorer dental health than men. Among research reviewed were studies previously done by Lukacs. Two clinical dental studies published this year (one done in the Philippines, the other in Guatemala) and cited in the paper, Lukacs said, point to the same conclusions and "may provide the mechanism through which the biological differences are mediated."

A change in food production by agrarian societies has been associated with an increase in cavities. Anthropologists have attributed men-women differences to behavioral factors, including a sexual division of labor and dietary preferences. However, Lukacs said, clinical and epidemiological literature from varied ecological and cultural settings reveals a clear picture of the impacts on women's oral health.

"The role of female-specific factors has been denied by anthropologists, yet they attain considerable importance in the model proposed here, because the adoption of agriculture is associated with increased sedentism and fertility," Lukacs said. "I argue that the rise of agriculture increased demands on women’s reproductive systems, contributing to an increase in fertility that intensified the negative impact of dietary change on women’s oral health. The combined impacts of increased fertility, dietary changes and division of labor during the move into agricultural societies contributed to the widespread gender differential observed in dental caries rates today."

Lukacs' meta-analysis looked at both prehistoric anthropological and modern health records. He repeatedly found that increases in cavities go in favor of women in adulthood. Lukacs' review found that women’s higher rates of cavities are influenced by three main changes:

• Female sex hormones. Citing his own research published in 2006, he notes that these hormones and associated physiological factors can significantly impact cavity formation. A study on animals published in 1954 found that female estrogens, but not male androgens, were correlated to cavity rates. He argues for a cumulative effect of estrogens, including fluctuations at puberty and high levels during pregnancy that both promote cavities and dietary changes.

• The biochemical composition and flow rate of saliva. Women produce less saliva than do men, reducing the removal of food residue from the teeth, and that during pregnancies the chemical composition changes, reducing saliva's antimicrobial capacity.

• Food cravings, immune response and aversions during pregnancy. Lukacs points to findings that women crave high-energy, sweet foods during the third trimester, as well as an aversion to meat in first trimesters.

How the factors combine to contribute to higher risk of cavities in women as they age is not fully documented or understood, he wrote. "However, if hormonal and physiological factors work in an independent or additive manner, their impact on women's oral health could be significant. The fact that women's caries experience increases with age at a greater rate than men's in diverse ethnic groups from different ecological and cultural settings supports this interpretation."

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, American Institute of Indian Studies, American Philosophical Society, L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research supported the project.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Source: John R. Lukacs, professor of anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, 541-346-5112, jrlukacs@uoregon.edu

Links: Lukacs faculty page: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~jrlukacs/Dr.%20John%20R.%20Lukacs%20Website/index.html; department of anthropology: http://www.uoregon.edu/~anthro/; College of Arts and Sciences: http://cas.uoregon.edu

Jim Barlow | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

Further reports about: Cavities anthropology dental caries dental cavities food production

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>