June 26, 2012

HPV Linked to Gum Disease

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- According to the National Cancer Institute, there has been a steady increase in the prevalence of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. since 1973. Researchers believe this increase has mainly been attributed to oral HPV infection. A new study attempts to show links between gum disease and HPV to head and neck cancers.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine evaluated data from 124 patients diagnosed with primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) between 1999 and 2007.

"The aim of the study was to test the presence of periodontitis, a persistent inflammatory process and HPV-status of HNSCC." Mine Tezal, DDS, PhD, assistant professor of oral biology was quoted saying.

Of the 124 tumor samples, 50 were positive for HPV-16 DNA. Subjects with HPV-positive tumors had a significantly higher severity of periodontitis (gum disease) when compared to subjects with HPV-negative tumors.
Understanding the natural history of the oral HPV infection and targeting factors associated with its persistence will lead to more effective strategies, not only for prevention, but also for treatment.

“While there is an effective vaccine for cervical HPV infection if given prior to the exposure of the virus (females 9-26; males 9-21), oral HPV infection can be transmitted at or any time after birth, and the target population for a vaccine to prevent oral HPV infection has not yet been defined,” Tezal added.

"The next step in this research will be intervention studies to test whether treating the sources of inflammation, like gum disease, can reduce the acquisition and/or persistence of oral HPV infection and improve the prognosis of HPV- related diseases," Tezal informed.

Source: JAMA