Tobacco is mostly regarded as one of the primary etiologic factor in causing oral cancer. Its use affects the pattern of maturation in oral mucosal cells and results in changes in the appearance of the tissues. Lipid peroxidation (LPO) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several pathologic disorders, including oral premalignant and malignant lesions. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of tobacco use and assess its effects on oral epithelial cells and oxidant/antioxidant balance in the oral cavities of tobacco consumers in some travelling agencies in Bafoussam West Region Cameroon.
A cross sectional study with a total of 120 individuals (divided into two groups; group A (n=55) including non-consumers of tobacco above 21 years old and group B (n=65) including tobacco consumers above 21 years old), voluntarily enrolled in the study. After giving their consents and answering a series of questions from questionnaires, saliva samples and buccal smears were collected from their oral cavities. Buccal smears were stained using Papanicolaou staining technique and the presence of hyperkeratosis, tobacco hyperkeratosis, non-specific inflammatory changes and oral microflora were assessed. [MDA] was determined using the Thiobarbituric acid method. The results showed that male tobacco consumers made 48.3% and most of them were aged between 21-31 years old, while female tobacco consumers made 5.7% of the total sample population. Smoking was the method most used by consumers (41.7%) and 66% of them smoked for more than 10 years while 50% smoked more than 10 sticks of cigarette per day. A statistical significant relationship was found between tobacco consumption and oral epithelial changes (p<0.001). Only tobacco consumers presented with tobacco hyperkeratotic buccal smears (20%) when compared with the control group. A good number of hyperkeratotic buccal smears (39.2%) was found in both the case (17.5) and control (21.7%) groups. 24.1% of the total sample population had normal buccal smears, where 8.3% were consumers and 15.8% were non-consumers. Microorganisms were found on buccal smears of 5.9% of individuals and 9.2% had non-specific inflammatory changes. Between tobacco consumption and salivary [MDA] in saliva of tobacco consumers was significantly higher compared to non-consumers (p<0.001). A strongly positive correlation was found between salivary [MDA] and oral epithelial changes (r=0.204, p=0.026 at 0.05CI). In conclusion, tobacco consumption severely increases the risk for developing oral mucosal proliferative lesions, and the level of oxidative stress in the saliva of individuals in the study population.
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