Tooth loss and periodontal disease might increase the risk of developing various cancers. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth and eventually results in tooth loss.
Previous studies have suggested that tooth loss and periodontal disease might increase the risk of developing various cancers, but the role of smoking in the association has been unclear so far.
To assess whether periodontal disease or tooth loss is associated with cancer risk, American researchers collected data on more than 48,000 men, aged between 40 and 75 years. The most common cancers reported were colorectal, melanoma, lung and bladder and advanced prostate cancer.
After taking into account other risk factors, such as smoking and diet, the researchers found that men with a history of gum disease had a 14 percent higher risk of developing cancer compared with men did not have a history of the condition. The risk for specific cancers was typically higher. Compared to men with healthy gums, men with a history of gum disease had a 36 percent increased risk of lung cancer, a 49 percent hike in risk of kidney cancer, a 54 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer, and a 30 percent increased risk of white blood cell cancers. Further, men who had fewer teeth at the beginning of the study had a 70 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer, compared with men who had 25 to 32 teeth.
It was also noted that the association between gum disease and lung cancer disappeared among men with gum disease who had never smoked. However, men with gum disease who did not smoke had a 35 percent increased risk for blood cancers and a 21 percent overall increased risk for cancer.
The findings indicate a small, but significant association between periodontal disease and increase in overall cancer risk, which persisted in never-smokers. However, more elaborate studies are expected to flow in to confirm the associations.