Study shows periodontal disease can increase risk of precancerous lesions associated with stomach cancer

An increase in oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease could contribute to an individual’s risk for stomach cancer, according to a study published in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

This study, led by researchers from the New York University College of Dentistry and New York University School of Medicine, looked at the association between periodontal pathogen colonization and the potential risk of developing precancerous lesions that may predict stomach cancer.

The researchers looked at the results of full-mouth exams in 35 people with precancerous lesions potentially predictive of stomach cancer and the results of another 70 people without lesions. They found that the patients with precancerous lesions were more likely to experience gum bleeding when probed and also displayed less bacterial diversity in their saliva. The researchers also noted that a decreased bacterial diversity in dental plaque and not flossing teeth regularly were significant predictors of increased risk of precancerous gastric lesions.

The researchers’ findings backed up earlier findings that “poor oral health is associated with an increased risk of precancerous lesions of stomach cancer,” said Dr. Yihong Li, one of the study’s authors.

The researchers concluded that periodontal bacteria and oral cavity bacteria diversity are “important factors contributing to a potentially increased risk of developing precancerous gastric lesions.”

For more information about periodontal disease, visit the American Dental Association’s consumer website The site also features a Symptom Checker that can help patients identify possible oral health conditions.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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