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Med Oral. 2004 Jan-Feb;9(1):14-23.

Effects of the consumption of alcohol in the oral cavity: relationship with oral cancer.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Odontología, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, España.


In an epidemiologic point of view the consumption of alcoholic beverages is found to be associated to an increased risk for developing an upper gastrointestinal tract cancer. The relation of the studies that establish this connection is complicated due to both the confluence of various risk factors within the same person such as alcohol and tobacco, and to the lack of data that can be verifiable by the clinician. For this reason the exact pathogenic mechanism responsible for this increase of risk is not known since ethanol per se was not confirmed to be carcinogenic. Different hypotheses have been proposed, explaining how ethanol, by oral or systemic route, can act as a risk factor for the development of oral cancer. This article serves as a review of the actual situation of the potential pathogenic mechanisms, dividing them in local and systemic effects. Within the aforementioned special reference is made on the alteration of the oral mucosa permeability, the action of acetaldehyde and the role of retinoids.

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