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Dr. Rob DiVito

Scottsdale AZ Dentist, Family Dentist, General Cosmetic Dentist

Gum Disease May Raise Cancer Risk

People who have periodontal (gum) disease may have a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer, suggests a letter published in the journal Gut detailing a prospective study. A team of researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston carried out a study which examined the association between the history of periodontal disease and tooth loss with the risk of esophageal and gastric cancer in 98,459 women from the Nurse’ Health Study (1992-2014) and 49,685 men from the Health Profession­als Follow-up Study (1988-2016).

Dental measures, demographics, lifestyle, and diet were assessed using follow-up questionnaires, and self-reported cancer diagnosis was confirmed after reviewing medical records. The results showed that during 22 to 28 years of follow-up, there were 199 cases of esophageal cancer and 238 cases of gastric cancer. A history of periodontal disease was associated with a 43% and 52% increased risk of esophageal cancer and gastric cancer respectively.

The authors point to possible reasons for an association between oral bacteria (oral microbiota) and esophageal and gastric cancer, with evidence from other studies suggesting that tannerella forsythia and porphy-romonas gingivalis, members of the “red complex” of periodontal pathogens, were associated with the presence or risk of esophageal cancer. Another possible reason is that poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease could promote the formation of endogenous nitrosamines known to cause gastric cancer through nitrate-reducing bacteria. These findings may help identify people at risk for these cancers, according to the researchers.

Janet (one of our patients) gave it to us as a reminder for everyone about the importance of overall dental health as “Gum Disease may raise Cancer risk”.

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