Cancer risk elevated with severe gum disease [Periodontal Disease]

By Natalie Grover

(Reuters Health) - People with severe gum disease may be at greater risk for cancer, a U.S. study suggests.

“What this report does is continue the support of the idea that gum disease is not just a matter of what happens to our teeth,” said Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

Researchers performed dental exams on 7,466 individuals from Mississippi, Maryland,Minnesota and North Carolina and then monitored them for an average of 15 years. None of the participants had cancer at the start of the study.

Fifteen years later, individuals with severe gum disease on the dental exam had a 24 percent higher risk of developing any kind of cancer, and more than double the risk of lung cancer, compared to those with no or mild gum disease.

Odds of developing colorectal cancer were increased particularly for nonsmokers with severe gum disease, the researchers found.

These findings, based on actual dental exams, are consistent with prior studies that have used self-reports of gum disease, lead study author Dominique Michaud, professor of public health and community medicine at the Tuft’s School of Medicine, told Reuters Health. ...

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Referenced study (National Cancer Institute):

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