Periodontal Disease Linked to Some Cancers, Study Finds

Flossing isn't just for fighting cavities — it could help stave off cancer.

A new study in The Lancet Oncology found that men with a history of periodontal disease have a 14 percent higher risk of cancer than those who do not have periodontal disease.

The study was based on data collected from more than 48,000 American men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up study, which was made up of men aged 40 to 75.

The study did not include findings from women or other populations.

The article said one reason for the connection is that people with gum infections tend to have an increased amount of inflammation, but the "exact link, if any, between gum disease and cancer remains unclear."

After taking into account other risk factors such as smoking and diet, the researchers found that men with a history of periodontal disease had a 14 percent higher risk of developing cancer compared with men did not have a history of the condition.

While the overall risk was 14 percent, several cancers carried a 30 percent or more risk. For example, men with a history of periodontal disease had a 36 percent increased risk of lung cancer, a 49 percent increased risk of getting kidney cancer, a 54 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer and a 30 percent increased risk of white blood cell cancers, according to the study.

The study noted that the association between periodontal disease and lung cancer disappeared among men who had never smoked, but men with periodontal disease who did not smoke still had a 35 percent increased risk for blood cancers and a 21 percent overall increased risk for cancer.

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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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Top Ways to Prevent GUM DISEASE:

  • Proper brushing and flossing

  • Using antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash to kill bacteria

  • Biannual dental visits for cleanings and checkups