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Gum Disease and Cancer Risk

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Do you have gum disease? It could be a warning sign of an increased risk of cancer. A study in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention links periodontal disease with increased risk of several types of cancer in older women, even in those who never smoked.

Researchers followed more than 65,000 women, average age 68, for about eight years and found more than 7,000 cancers. Periodontal disease was tied to a 14 percent higher risk of developing any type cancer. But the greatest risk was for esophegeal cancer, which was more than three times more likely in the women who had gum disease than those who didn’t.

While the risk was highest for esophageal cancer, it was also elevated for cancers of the gallbladder, breast lung and melanoma. Interestingly, it was not associated with cancers of the pancreas, liver or lower digestive tract.
Researchers speculate that gum pathogens could reach other sites through swallowed saliva, causing inflammation in other organs. Or gum disease could just be a marker for general health.

The bottom line according to the study authors: treating gum disease can be helpful in managing cancer.

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