Objective The aim of this article is to review the literature on the social determinants of health and its association with the development of oral cancer. Methods A systematic search was performed in Pubmed database to access relevant, available articles published up until 2012. Reference lists of selected articles were examined to identify additional articles. Twenty-one articles were included in the study. Results Despite the difficulties in making comparisons between the articles, due to lack of uniformity in the definition of social determinants of health and the small number of publications on the subject, the results showed a strong association between oral cancer and social deprivation; socioeconomic status and income; education and occupation. Conclusion It is important that further work be conducted to study more in depth this association, to better understand the occurrence of oral cancer and it prevention. In addition, the development of social policies aimed at improving people's living conditions is required, since the results show that better living conditions constitute a protective factor for oral cancer.
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