Want to know if you’re at risk for getting cancer? Your dentist may be able to tell you. A study conducted with nearly 50,000 people over 17 years found a connection between gum disease and many kinds of cancers. This shouldn’t surprise you. Gum disease means inflammation, and inflammation is at the core of many chronic illnesses including cancer.
For this study, researchers collected questionnaires every four years. These included information about the participants’ general health, diet, and history of smoking. They also reported any bone loss including loss of teeth. Then they asked about any new diagnosis of cancer.
Colon cancer topped the list of cancers associated with gum inflammation. This was followed by melanoma (skin), lung, bladder, and advanced prostate cancer. Study participants who had gum disease were 14% more likely to get some form of cancer than those with healthy gums. Fourteen percent may seem like a rather small risk. But it’s not when you realize this risk is completely preventable.
The researchers believe that gum disease is a sign of a suppressed immune system — which can lead to cancer. Or it could be a direct cause-and-effect association connected to inflammation. It doesn’t matter which it is. You can reduce your risk for getting any cancers just by improving your gums. Frankly, I believe that inflammation is the primary culprit.
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I’ve talked about this before at length in my article, “The New Way to Stop Gums From Bleeding and Save Your Teeth” (you can read this September 2007 article on my website). The key is daily cleaning, flossing, or proxi-brush, and applying a strong probiotic to your gums every night. This method can save your teeth, further reducing your risk for lung cancer by a whopping 70% — a surprising finding.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Michaud, D.S., et al, “Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study,” The Lancet Oncology, 2008.