Gum disease raises a woman's risk of cancer by up to 14%

Gum disease raises a woman's risk of cancer by up to 14%

03 Aug 2017

Women with a history of gum disease have up to a 14 percent higher risk of cancerous oral inflammation promotes tumour development, new research reveals.
According to the Mail Online, researchers from the University of Buffalo in New  York analysed 65,869 postmenopausal women with an average age of 68.
The study's participants were asked 'Has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had periodontal or gum disease?'
Cancer prevalence was identified through annual participant health updates and then confirmed by medical records.
Results reveal that women with a history of gum disease have a 14 per cent higher risk of certain cancers.
Periodontal disease is significantly associated with a higher risk of developing oesophagal and gallbladder cancer.
Periodontal disease is significantly associated with an increased susceptibility to oesophagal and gallbladder cancer in postmenopausal women, a study found.
The researchers believe pathogens from the mouth can easily infect the nearby oesophagus and cause cancer.
Inflammation has also previously been associated with both gum disease and tumour development.
The researchers add such findings are particularly important in older people, as their growing life expectancy puts them at a greater risk of periodontal conditions and cancer.
Senior author Dr Jean Wactawski-Wende said: 'The oesophagus is in close proximity to the oral cavity, and so periodontal pathogens may more easily gain access to and infect the oesophagal mucosa and promote cancer risk at that site.
Study author Dr Ngozi Nwizu added: 'It is important to establish if periodontal disease is an important risk of oesophagal cancer so that appropriate preventive measures can be promoted.
'Chronic inflammation has also been implicated in gallbladder cancer, but there has been no data on the association between periodontal disease and gallbladder risk.' The findings were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers believe their findings are particularly relevant for people of a postmenopausal age, as their life expectancy, and subsequent health risks, continue to grow.
Dr Nwizu said: 'The elderly are more disproportionately affected by periodontal disease than other age groups, and for most types of cancers, the process of carcinogenesis usually occurs over many years.
'So the adverse effects of periodontal disease are more likely to be seen among postmenopausal women, simply because of their older age.'
It is unclear if the same outcomes would occur in men or younger women.  
In response, leading charity, the Oral Health Foundation is encouraging women to ensure they pay close attention to their gum health to reduce their risk of developing these types of cancer.
Speaking on this important new research, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation said: “We have known for some time that there are close links between oral health and systemic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, but this new study is hugely significant as it could help many millions of women help reduce their risk of cancer.
“We are encouraging post-menopausal women to be alert to the early signs of gum disease; which include red inflamed  gums, bleeding when brushing your teeth and persistent bad breath, and ensure that you visit your dentist as soon as possible to get checked out and avoid any further problems.
“Avoiding gum disease can be as simple as brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, using interdental brushes daily and regular visits to the dentist. While gum disease can be treated very effectively, the best approach is certainly prevention and making sure we do not fall foul of it at all.
“We welcome more research on this topic, as a greater understanding could be a game-changer in helping women avoid many types of cancer.”