Gum disease has been long linked to a variety of serious health issues, including heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, bone loss in the jaw and diabetic complications.
Now you can add cancer to that alarming list. Studies show that patients with periodontitis are at greater risk of developing certain types of cancer than those with healthy gums and teeth.
Research Links Gum Disease to Cancer Risk in Women
A recent study tracked the health of nearly 66,000 postmenopausal women age 54 to 86. The participants reported whether they were affected by periodontal disease at the start of the research period, then cancer outcomes were considered after a maximum period of 15 years.
The findings? At the average follow-up period of just over eight years, 7,149 cancers were diagnosed. Altogether, women with a history of periodontitis were about 14 percent more likely to get cancer than women without periodontal disease.
The risk for esophageal cancer was found to be the greatest — women with periodontitis were more than three times as likely to develop this form of carcinoma. Gallbladder cancer was next, twice as common with periodontal disease. Lung, skin and breast cancers were also more prevalent — their risks increased by 31 percent, 23 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Study Shows Link Between Gum Disease and Cancer in Men
Before the women’s study was completed, similar research associated periodontitis with an increased cancer risk in men.
A health tracking study of more than 48,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75 revealed that overall, those with a history of periodontal disease were roughly 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums.
Pancreatic cancer had the highest level of incidence — men with periodontitis were found to be 54 percent more likely to get this type of cancer. Kidney cancer was next, at a 49 percent greater chance, followed by blood cancer at 30 percent.
Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
According to the CDC, more than 47 percent of adults over age 30 have periodontitis. With older adults, the number is even higher — more than 70 percent of adults 65 and older have gum disease.
Fortunately, solid oral hygiene habits, regular oral health evaluations and routine professional cleanings are often enough to prevent periodontal disease. Eating a balanced diet and refraining from smoking can also help stop periodontitis.
To lower your risk of developing cancer, visit your oral surgeon for a professional check of your gum health. The experienced team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah have the skills and knowledge to diagnose and treat periodontitis. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office to schedule a gum disease consultation today.