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. 2017 Aug;26(8):1255-1265.
doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0212.

Periodontal Disease and Incident Cancer Risk Among Postmenopausal Women: Results From the Women's Health Initiative Observational Cohort

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Periodontal Disease and Incident Cancer Risk Among Postmenopausal Women: Results From the Women's Health Initiative Observational Cohort

Ngozi N Nwizu et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. .
Free PMC article


Background: Periodontal pathogens have been isolated from precancerous and cancerous lesions and also shown to promote a procarcinogenic microenvironment. Few studies have examined periodontal disease as a risk factor for total cancer, and none have focused on older women. We examined whether periodontal disease is associated with incident cancer among postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study.Methods: Our prospective cohort study comprised 65,869 women, ages 54 to 86 years. Periodontal disease information was obtained via self-report questionnaires administered between 1999 and 2003, whereas ascertainment of cancer outcomes occurred through September 2013, with a maximum follow-up period of 15 years. Physician-adjudicated incident total cancers were the main outcomes and site-specific cancers were secondary outcomes. HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression. All analyses were conducted two-sided.Results: During a mean follow-up of 8.32 years, 7,149 cancers were identified. Periodontal disease history was associated with increased total cancer risk (multivariable-adjusted HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.08-1.20); findings were similar in analyses limited to 34,097 never-smokers (HR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.04-1.22). Associations were observed for breast (HR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.03-1.23), lung (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.14-1.51), esophagus (HR, 3.28; 95% CI, 1.64-6.53), gallbladder (HR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.01-2.95), and melanoma skin (HR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.02-1.48) cancers. Stomach cancer was borderline (HR, 1.58; 95% CI, 0.94-2.67).Conclusions: Periodontal disease increases risk of total cancer among older women, irrespective of smoking, and certain anatomic sites appear to be vulnerable. Impact: Our findings support the need for further understanding of the effect of periodontal disease on cancer outcomes. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 26(8); 1255-65. ©2017 AACR.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Enrollment Flowchart for the WHI-OS Study
Figure 2
Figure 2
Periodontal Disease and Incident Cancer Risk, Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study

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