A recent New York Times article reveals that periodontal disease is associated with a higher risk for cancer, particularly for older women.  Researchers followed more than 65,000 women whose average age was 68. Information on periodontal disease was gathered and the study was controlled for race, age, family history of cancer, smoking and other variables.  Here are a few highlights from this study:

  • Over an average of eight years of follow-up, 7,149 cancers were found.
  • The increased risk from periodontal disease was highest for esophageal and gallbladder cancers.
  • Cancers of the breast, lung, and melanoma of the skin were also increased.
  • Gum disease didn’t appear to be associated with cancers of the pancreas, liver or lower digestive tract.

The exact mechanism is still yet to be established but current thinking suggests that periodontal bacteria could reach sites in the body through swallowed saliva thus leading to inflammation in a variety of organs.  Jean Wactawski-Wende, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Buffalo states, “We know that treating gum disease prevents tooth loss.  It could be helpful in managing cancer and other systemic diseases.  That’s a simple public health message.”

For more detailed information, visit Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.  If you wish to have an evaluation for gum disease, you can visit our website www.mygumdoc.com for great information on treatment and our New Patient Special which makes it very easy to see us!