CANCER
June 16, 2008

Gum Disease and Cancer Risk

A few years ago they told us gum disease was associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

If that didn't make you break out the floss, then maybe this will: a new study has found that people with gum disease are also at higher risk for several types of cancer.

"Men with history of periodontal disease had a 14 percent higher risk of cancer than those who did not have periodontal disease," said study lead researcher Dominique Michaud, an epidemiologist at the U.K.'s Imperial College, London. And the difference was even higher among smokers.

People with gum infections have high levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, and inflammation is linked to cancer. But, it is not yet clear that there is a direct causal link between gum disease and cancer.

This new finding confirms, however, that the association between the two is strong.

Michaud's team collected data on more than 48,000 American men.

They monitored the health of these men for over 17 years and found 5,720 cases of cancer, including colorectal cancer, melanoma, lung and bladder cancer, and advanced prostate cancer.

The researchers also found that men with a history of gum disease had a 14 percent higher risk of developing cancer than those who did not.

Their report is published in the June edition of the journal, The Lancet Oncology.
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