Study Finds Gum Disease Increases Cancer Risk

dental care in Beaverton, Oregon

When it comes to receiving dental care in Beaverton, Oregon, you may think that regular brushing and flossing only work to help reduce your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. While these daily habits can help to improve the health of our smile, they can also help to reduce your risk for cancer.

Researchers have found that a history of gum disease increases an individual’s risk for stomach cancer by 52 percent and throat cancer by 43 percent, according to the results of two long-term studies.

Patients who’d lost two or more of their teeth also had their risk of cancer increase – 33 percent for stomach and 42 percent for throat cancer – when compared to patients who had all of their teeth.

Participants in the study with gum disease or with a higher number of missing teeth also had an increased risk for developing these types of cancer, even after researchers had adjusted their findings to take into consideration other known risk factors for these diseases.

If the results of these studies are verified, that could mean a significant number of Americans face an increased risk for these types of cancer. Roughly half of all adults 30 and older have some level of gum disease, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results of these studies also underscore the importance of receiving dental care in Beaverton, Oregon on a regular basis to help reduce the risk of developing serious underlying health problems.

Poor Oral Health Leads to Cancer Risk

As part of their study, researchers examined health data collected from thousands of health professionals during the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Combined, these studies followed nearly 150,000 health professionals for nearly three decades.

During the follow-up period of the study, participants developed 199 cases of throat cancer and 238 cases of stomach cancer.

In total, any participant with a history of gum disease has a 59 percent higher risk of throat cancer compared to participants who’d never develop gum disease, regardless of whether they’d lost any permanent teeth.

Some differences were noted when examining the connection to stomach cancer, however. People with gum disease and no missing teeth had a 50 percent higher risk for stomach cancer, while those who’d lost one or more teeth had a 68 percent higher risk.

Considering that the mouth, throat, and stomach are all connected, researchers were not surprised to find that markers for one illness would increase the risk of cancer in another.

Researchers believe that the inflammation caused by gum disease may contribute to the increased risk for cancer.

“People with gum disease tend to have higher systemic inflammation, which is one of the underlying mechanism of cancer development,” wrote researchers.

“From this study, and others like it, it seems that some of the bacteria and related pathogens that lead to tooth loss and gum disease are also associated with tumors in the stomach and esophagus.”

The cancer risk found in the study was unrelated to tobacco use, meaning that smokers with poor oral health face an even higher risk for developing these types of gastrointestinal cancers, added researchers.

For patients with a history of poor gum health who want to reduce their cancer risk, receiving dental care in Beaverton, Oregon on a regular basis is a must. Taking good care of your teeth and gums, along with recognizing the early signs of cancer, offer you the best alternative to helping protect your long-term health.

Protecting Your Health

In addition to finding that poor oral health leads to an increased risk of cancer, research has also discovered a direct connection between gum health and tooth loss and a range of chronic illnesses that include heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.

Making the time and taking the effort to protect the health of your teeth and gums does far more than just improve the health of your smile. It can also make a significant difference in determining your health now and into the future.

If you have any questions regarding how your oral health may impact your overall health, feel free to ask any member of our team during your next visit to Beaverton Dental Center.