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J Dent Res. 2003 May;82(5):345-9.

Bias induced by self-reported smoking on periodontitis-systemic disease associations.

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Department of Dental Public Health Sciences, Box 357475, University of Washington School of Dentistry, Seattle 98195, USA.


Non-causal associations between periodontitis and systemic diseases may be spuriously induced by smoking because of its strong relationship to both. The goal of this study was to evaluate whether adjustment for self-reported smoking removes tobacco-related confounding and eliminated such spurious confounding. Using NHANES III data, we evaluated associations between attachment loss and serum cotinine after adjustment by self-reported number of cigarettes smoked. Cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, should not be related to attachment loss, if self-reported smoking captures the effect of tobacco on attachment levels. Adjustment for self-reported cigarette smoking did not completely remove the correlation between attachment loss and serum-cotinine level (r = 0.075, n= 1507, p = 0.003). Simulation studies indicated similar results for time-to-event data. These findings demonstrate the difficulty in distinguishing the effects of periodontitis from those of smoking with respect to a smoking-related outcome. Future studies should report results of analyses on separate subcohorts of never-smokers and smokers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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