Poor oral health linked to can­cer-caus­ing oral HPV in­fec­tion

Wellness Update - - Contents -


Poor oral health, in­clud­ing gum disease and den­tal prob­lems, was found to be as­so­ci­ated with oral hu­man pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) in­fec­tion, which causes about 40 per­cent to 80 per­cent of oropha­ryn­geal can­cers, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at The Univer­sity of Texas Health Sci­ence Center at Houston (UTHealth). “Poor oral health is a new in­de­pen­dent risk fac­tor for oral HPV in­fec­tion and, to our knowl­edge, this is the first study to ex­am­ine this as­so­ci­a­tion,” said Thanh Cong Bui, Dr. P.H., post­doc­toral re­search fel­low in the School of Pub­lic Health, part of UTHealth. “The good news is, this risk fac­tor is mod­i­fi­able — by main­tain­ing good oral hy­giene and good oral health, one can pre­vent HPV in­fec­tion and sub­se­quent HPV-re­lated can­cers.” The re­searchers found that among the study par­tic­i­pants, those who re­ported poor oral health had a 56 per­cent higher preva­lence of oral HPV in­fec­tion, and those who had gum disease and den­tal prob­lems had a 51 per­cent and 28 per­cent higher preva­lence of oral HPV in­fec­tion, re­spec­tively. In ad­di­tion, the re­searchers were able to as­so­ci­ate oral HPV in­fec­tions with num­ber of teeth lost. Sim­i­lar to gen­i­tal HPV in­fec­tion, oral HPV in­fec­tion can be of two kinds: in­fec­tion with low-risk HPV types that do not cause can­cer, but can cause a va­ri­ety of be­nign tu­mors or warts in the oral cav­ity, and in­fec­tion with high-risk HPV types that can cause oropha­ryn­geal can­cers. The re­searchers found that be­ing male, smok­ing cig­a­rettes, us­ing mar­i­juana, and oral sex habits in­creased the like­li­hoaod of oral HPV in­fec­tion. They also found that sel­f­rated over­all oral health was an in­de­pen­dent risk fac­tor for oral HPV in­fec­tion, be­cause this as­so­ci­a­tion did not change re­gard­less of whether or not the par­tic­i­pants smoked or had mul­ti­ple oral sex part­ners. Be­cause HPV needs wounds in the mouth to en­ter and in­fect the oral cav­ity, poor oral health, which may in­clude ul­cers, mu­cosal dis­rup­tion, or chronic in­flam­ma­tion, may cre­ate an en­try por­tal for HPV, said Bui. There is, how­ever, cur­rently not enough ev­i­dence to sup­port this, and fur­ther re­search is needed to un­der­stand this re­la­tion­ship, he said.

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