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Periodontitis increases tongue cancer risk in men.

Whether he smokes or not, periodontitis could boost a man's risk for tongue cancer, reported US researchers in the May issue of Archives of Otalaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo compared 51 non-Hispanic white men with tongue cancer and 54 non-Hispanic white men without tongue cancer. The case-controlled study used preexisting data from patients admitted between June 15, 1999, and November 17, 2005.

Using panoramic radiographs, one examiner blind to cancer status assessed periodontitis in the men by measuring alveolar bone loss. Men with tongue cancer had significantly greater bone loss than those without tongue cancer-4.21 mm versus 2.74 mm.

"After adjusting for the effects of age, smoking status, and the number of teeth, each millimeter of bone loss was significantly associated with a 5.23-fold increase in the risk of tongue cancer," wrote the study authors. "Other oral variables (the number of dental decays, fillings, crowns and root canal treatments) were not significantly associated with the risk of tongue cancer."

This preliminary data suggests an association between periodontistis and tongue cancer, but larger studies that include women and different racial/ethnic groups need to be conducted to confirm this association, said the researchers. If this association is confirmed, it has a potential impact on understanding the etiology of oral cancer as well as on its prevention and control.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, roughly 7500 Americans are diagnosed with tongue cancer each year, with men accounting for nearly two-thirds of the cases.

Katie S. Barge is staff editor of the Journal of Dental Hygiene and staff writer for Access

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Title Annotation:Upfront
Author:Barge, Katie
Publication:Journal of Dental Hygiene
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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