Objectives: Previous studies have suggested that poor oral health might increase the risk of lung cancer among European- and Asian- descendants. The association has not been investigated among African Americans or socially disadvantaged populations. In this nested case-control study, we investigated whether oral health was associated with lung cancer risk among a low-income population of African Americans and European Americans in the Southeastern United States.
Materials and methods: A total of 403 incident lung cancer cases and 1612 matched controls from the Southern Community Cohort Study were included. Multivariate conditional logistic regression models were fitted to evaluate the risk of lung cancer linked to tooth loss, tooth decay, and history of periodontal disease.
Results: Tooth loss was significantly associated with an increased risk of lung cancer: the odds ratio (OR) of more than 10 teeth lost was 1.64 (95% CI: 1.00, 2.69). Tooth decay was also significantly associated with increased lung cancer risk; those with ≥ 6 decaying teeth had an OR of 1.65 (1.18, 2.31). An increased lung cancer risk was significantly associated with a history of periodontal disease among African Americans (OR = 1.56, 95% CI: 1.05, 2.31) and heavy smokers (OR = 2.05, 95% CI: 1.38, 3.05).
Conclusion: Poor oral health is associated with increased lung cancer risk, and this association appears to vary by race and smoking behavior among a low-income population of African Americans and European Americans in the Southeastern United States.
Keywords: Health disparities; Lung cancer; Oral health; Periodontal disease; Tooth decay; Tooth loss.
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