Background: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are endocrine disruptors that accumulate in adipose tissue, can increase the risk of periodontal disease through the disturbance of the immune system. Objective: We examined associations of background exposure to POPs with periodontal disease in the general population. Design: Cross-sectional associations of concentrations of serum POPs with the prevalence of periodontal disease were investigated in 1,234 adults ≥ 20 years of age in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. Results: Among several POPs, organochlorine (OC) pesticides were most strongly associated with periodontal disease. Adjusted odds ratios across quintiles of OC pesticides were 1.0, 1.3, 1.7, 2.4, and 2.7 (p for trend < 0.01) for the presence in any site of clinical attachment loss = 4 mm and 1.0, 1.7, 2.6, 3.4, and 3.7 (p for trend < 0.01) for the presence of pocket depth = 4 mm. Polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins also showed significant positive associations with one or both definitions of periodontal disease. Results did not materially change when continuous variables of clinical attachment loss or pocket depth were used as outcomes. Although participants with periodontal disease had higher white blood cell and neutrophil counts, neutrophil counts were inversely related to OC pesticides (p for trend < 0.01). These inverse associations did not change after excluding subjects with C-reactive protein ≥ 3 mg/L. Conclusion: POPs, especially OC pesticides, were positively associated with periodontal disease, possibly through immunomodulation due to OC pesticides.
- Immune system
- Organochlorine pesticides
- Persistent organic pollutants