Did you know inflamed gums may increase your cancer risk? According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Recent studies have shown that this is not only bad news for a healthy smile, but increases other health hazards as well – including an increased risk for cancer.
Higher Risk of Cancer in those with Periodontal Disease
Research suggests that there is a 14% increase in cancer risk for men and women who have periodontal disease. Several types of cancer had even higher risk for men with gum disease – a 36% increased risk of lung cancer, 49% increased risk of kidney cancer, and a 54% increase in pancreatic cancer. For women, the most common association was for cancer of the esophagus, but increased risks for lung cancer, gallbladder cancer, melanoma, and breast cancer were discovered.
Many researchers feel that bacterial pathogens in the mouth may play a role in the increased cancer risk. The pathogens can be carried through saliva, and can permeate inflamed gums and enter the blood stream and travel to other parts of the body.
The connection between periodontal disease and cancer isn’t yet fully understood, but it is known to be a risk for both smokers and non-smokers. Further study into how periodontal disease is linked to cancer may lead to new cancer prevention strategies in the future.
Maintain Oral Health to Lower Risk
These studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that indicates that oral health is closely tied to overall health. Regular brushing and flossing, and maintaining a regular schedule of dental visits is more important than ever. We can catch gum problems before they turn into periodontal disease, lowering your risk for many cancers, and keeping your smile beautiful and healthy.