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Secondhand smoke exposure and oral cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Objectives Inhalation of secondhand smoke (SHS) causes several diseases, including lung cancer. Tobacco smoking is a known cause of oral cancer; however, it has not been established whether SHS also causes oral cancer . The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential association between SHS exposure and the risk of oral cancer.

Methods A systematic review and meta-analysis study (following the PRISMA guidelines) was developed to examine the studies reporting on the associations of SHS and the risk of oral cancer, employing a search strategy on electronic databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library, Open Grey, and ProQuest databases for dissertations) until 10 May 2020. Meta-analyses and sensitivity analyses were performed using random-effect models. The protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020189970).

Results Following the application of eligibility criteria, five studies were included, comprising a total of 1179 cases and 5798 controls, with 3452 individuals exposed and 3525 individuals not exposed to SHS. An overall OR of 1.51 (95% CI 1.2o to 1.91, p=0.0004) for oral cancer was observed, without significant heterogeneity (I2=0%, p=0.41). The duration of exposure of more than 10 or 15 years increased the risk of oral cancer (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.54 to 2.79, p<0.00001), compared with non-exposed individuals, without significant heterogeneity (I2=0%, p=0.76).

Conclusions This systematic review and meta-analysis supports a causal association between SHS exposure and oral cancer. Our results could provide guidance to public health professionals, researchers, and policymakers to further support effective SHS exposure prevention programs worldwide.

  • secondhand smoke
  • prevention
  • global health
  • environment

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study. Data are available upon reasonable request. Additional information is provided in supplemental documents.

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