A recent US study has shown a clear link between gum disease and cancer.
An interesting study thas been recently published in the medical journal ‘Gut’. This study suggests that people with a history of gum disease are more at risk of getting cancer. Researchers from Harvard University who have worked on this study have found that these people with a history of gum disease have a 43% higher risk of getting stomach cancer and a 52% higher risk of getting throat cancer.
Furthermore, those who have lost two or more teeth had a further increased risk of 33% for stomach cancer, and 42% for throat cancer.
Smoking has not been looked at during this study, and so those that do smoke could be at higher risk again.
Peter Campbell of the American Cancer Society has also mentioned that the longer you have gum disease the more at risk you may be. It was noted though, that some of this risk may be attributed to “simply getting older.”
The mouth, oesophagus and stomach are all connected, of course, and they’re important components of the digestive system. It’s not surprising to see that a marker for the illness of one organ is connected to another illness, such as cancer, further down the gastrointestinal tract.Peter Campbell – American Cancer Society
How was this study carried out?
Researchers looked into the link between the history of periodontal disease and tooth loss with the risk of cancer. To do this, the Harvard researchers analysed health data from two previous longterm studies. These studies included over 98,000 women in the Nurse’s Health Study and over 49,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
From this data, the researches found that during 22 to 28 years of follow-up, participants developed 199 cases of throat cancer. They also found 238 cases of stomach cancer.
Further investigation into this cancer risk has been requested, including clinical trials.
What is the link between Gum Disease and Cancer Found in this Study?
The senior researcher Mingyang Song believes that the inflammation caused by gum disease could be a contributing factor to the increased risk of these cancers. Song has also said that people with periodontal disease tend to have higher systemic inflammation, which is one of the underlying mechanisms of cancer development.
People with periodontal disease tend to have higher systemic inflammation, which is one of the underlying mechanisms of cancer developmentMingyang Song – Senior Researcher
Professor Stassen, president of the Irish Dental Association, has said similar in the past recognising that mouth health often reflects general health.
The more gum disease you have, the more inflammation you have, the more inflammation you have, the more we know your immune system is affected.Professor Stassen – President of the Irish Dental Association
It has also been noted by both Campbell and Song that poor oral hygiene promotes the build-up of bacteria in the mouth and gums, and this may be a contributing factor.
Moral of the Story…
Not looking after your teeth properly can lead to serious problems down the line. We can’t stress the importance of looking after your teeth and having a solid oral hygiene routine each and every day.
If you have any questions in relation to your oral hygiene or potential gum disease, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.