Gum Disease Significantly Increases Risk for Many Cancers

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Brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups appear to do much more than maintain a healthy smile. Now, a large prospective cohort study shows that postmenopausal women with a history of periodontal disease, including those who have never smoked, are at significantly increased overall risk for cancer as well as site-specific cancers, including lung, breast, esophageal, gallbladder, and melanoma skin cancers.

“Ours is the first study to report on the association between periodontal disease and gallbladder cancer risk in women or men,” say Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and colleagues in an online report published August 1 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study authors note that these results add to the growing body of evidence from smaller studies and studies in men that link periodontal disease to total cancer risk.

“Optimal oral hygiene is important in preventing tooth loss but may have important implications for prevention of systemic diseases, including cancer,” Dr Wactawski-Wende told Medscape Medical News.

“Periodontal disease is preventable, manageable, and in many cases, treatable,” she emphasized, adding “it may be prudent for clinicians to advise all their patients to maintain good oral health. Men and younger women may consider these findings potentially relevant to them as well.”

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