Is Gum Disease a Cancer Risk Factor?

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Seems like an odd correlation, but a recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention suggests so. The study found that, in postmenopausal women, those who had gum disease had a 14% higher chance of developing any type of cancer. The greatest cancer risk with gum disease was esophageal cancer, where there was a threefold increased chance of developing it.

Researchers followed nearly 66,000 women ages 54 to 86 for up to 15 years. They identified 7,149 cancer cases. The findings for the gum disease-cancer correlation existed among women who never smoked, too.

Now, the researchers are calling for more investigation of this correlation. They state that right now, they can’t tell if there is any direct link between the two conditions. Scientists do note that it could be that gum disease is just an indicator of poor health overall and that poor health is what is leading to cancer. However, in the meantime be sure to keep track of your dental health. Fighting off gum disease today might keep you healthier tomorrow.

Source: Periodontal Disease and Incident Cancer Risk among Postmenopausal Women: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort Ngozi N. Nwizu, James R. Marshall, et. al, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prev August 1 2017 (26) (8) 1255-1265; DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0212

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