, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 195-202

Gender-related hormonal risk factors for oral cancer

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Abstract

Oral cancer (OC) is a neoplasm with fairly high male to female ratio in most populations. The conspicuously lower incidence of this tumor among women than man is suggestive of certain endocrine involvement in its development. The aim of the present case-control study was to clarify the origin of this gender-specific risk of OC incidence. 2660 inpatients (530 females and 2130 males) with squamous cell OC at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery were included in a case-control study. Smoking, alcohol consumption, elevated fasting serum glucose level and menopausal histories of female cases were registered. Smoking and excessive alcohol intake proved to be strong risk factors for OC both in the male and female group. However, moderate alcohol consumption was a weaker risk factor for male patients, and it presented no risk for female cases. Elevated fasting glucose level was not a demonstrable OC risk factor among males, however, it proved to be strong risk factor for OC among female patients, especially in gingival cancer cases. The almost exclusively postmenopausal state of female OC patients and the long mean interval (17 years) between their menopause and OC diagnosis suggested an important role of estrogen deficiency in OC epidemiology. The significantly younger mean age at menopause and the significantly higher rate of hysterectomy among female OC cases in comparison with their controls also support the estrogen deficiency hypothesis. This novel hypothesis of estrogen deficiency and elevated fasting glucose as risk factors for OC in postmenopausal women may provide new insights into the etiology of oral malignancies.