Smoking, alcohol consumption and oral cancer among healthcare academics

ABSTRACT Objective To evaluate if dental students with the habit of smoking exhibit alterations in the epithelial cells of the cheek mucosa on the nuclear area (NA), cytoplasmic area (CA) or in the nucleus/cytoplasm ratio (NA/CA), when compared to non-smokers. Methods This is a descriptive, experimental study using a control group. The sample comprised 40 dental undergraduates (20 smokers and 20 non-smokers). Individuals who smoked at least 5 or 6 cigarettes a day were deemed to be smokers, while non-smokers were those who reported having no experience of any form of smoking. The samples of epithelial cells were obtained from the oral mucosa using the liquid-based exfoliative cytology technique. The slides were processed in the laboratory, stained using the Papanicolau technique and were analyzed via an image analysis system (analySIS getIT). A structured questionnaire was applied with the aim of measuring independent variables related to personal characteristics, health and lifestyle behavior. Results The values obtained in the group of smokers were as follows: NA (169.4 µm² ± 17.0), CA (1240.1 µm² ± 128.9) and NA/CA ratio (0.1375 ± 0.01743). The results did not evidence significant differences when compared to the control group: NA (170.7 µm² ± 20.0), CA (1255.3 µm² ± 174.5) and NA/CA (0.1380 ± 0.01436). Conclusion It was not possible to observe significant cell alterations in the NA, CA or the NA/CA ratio of epithelial cells of the oral mucosa. Other risk factors associated with tobacco should be studied, principally the length of exposure to the properties of the causative agent.