Gum Disease Linked to Cancer Risk in Older Women
A study involving more than 65,000 postmenopausal women in the United States suggests a history of gum disease, also called periodontal disease, increases the risk for certain types of cancer. Results of the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB), were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The study involved women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, which is designed to evaluate factors that affect disease and death risk in older women. The average age of the study participants was 68. As part of a follow-up to the Initiative, the women were asked, "Has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had periodontal or gum disease?”
According to researchers, women with a history of gum disease had a 14 percent higher risk of cancer overall. The risk was highest for cancer of the esophagus and gallbladder. Pathogens associated with gum disease, bacteria, for example, as well as increased inflammation are thought to contribute to the increased cancer risk.