53066 Dentist | Gum Disease Linked to Increased Cancer Risk in Older Women
Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a low grade, chronic infection that leads to inflammation of the gum tissue and bone that supports your teeth. If left untreated, gum disease leads to tooth loss. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults. The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 50% of American adults have some level of gum disease, and this figure skyrockets to 70% for Americans over the age of 65.
In addition to causing tooth loss, gum disease has also been linked to other systemic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy complications, just to name a few.
A new study by University of Buffalo researchers is now adding cancer to that list. Researchers studied more than 65,000 postmenopausal women between the ages of 54 and 86. They found that women with gum disease had a 14% higher risk of developing any cancer, but were three times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than women without gum disease. Breast cancer, gallbladder cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma specifically were also more prevalent in those with gum disease.
While more research is needed to better elucidate the exact nature of the link between gum disease, cancer, and other systemic health issues, one thing is clear: good oral hygiene at home and keeping up with your routine check-ups is more important than ever!