Is there a link between gum disease and cancer? Does gum disease increase an individual’s risk of getting cancer ? A study of over 48,000 professional males over 22 years published in the Lancet Oncology found that gum disease does indeed increase a person’s overall risk of getting cancer.
At first glance it would appear that smoking could be the factor to link the two diseases, however the study found that there is an increase in risk independent of any smoking history. After smoking, diet and other known risk factors were taken into account and factored into the results, it was still found that, of the men surveyed those with a history of periodontal disease (gum disease) were 14% more likely to develop cancer than those with no history of periodontitis.
Scientists have been investigating the association. Is it the immune system’s response to gum disease ? Or the passage of pathogens into the bloodstream that affects potential tumour sites and in turn the overall cancer risk.
Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study by Dominique S Michaud, Yan Liu, Mara Meyer, Edward Giovannucci, Kaumudi Joshipura The Lancet Oncology (2008); 9: pp. 550-8. DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(08)70106-2