A person’s oral health often serves as a major indicator of one’s overall health, and there are many serious ailments for which gum disease are a contributing factor. In fact, gum disease has been closely associated with heart disease. For women who are within a certain age group and in their postmenopausal stage, the presence of gum disease can also result in a high risk for cancer. This is according to a study that was conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo.
About Gum Disease
Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is the infection of the bones and tissue that support and encase the teeth. Gingivitis is a relatively mild form of gum disease that is found only in the soft tissue near the teeth. Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease and can travel to the area beneath the teeth, causing significant damage to the bone and tissues that support the teeth. There is a strong indication that the inflammation and infection that is caused by the bacteria due to the gum disease in the mouth can be transmitted to other parts of the body via inhalation or ingestion or when the bacteria enters the bloodstream from the soft tissue in the mouth.
About the Study
The Women’s Health Initiative was conducted to gain a better understanding of the link between gum disease and cancer in older women. The study’s results show that 65,000 of the participants who were aged 54 to 86 and had a history of gum disease had a 14 percent increased risk of developing cancer. Breast cancer was the most prevalent of the 7,149 cancers that afflicted the women who took part in the study, accounting for 2,416 of the cancers.
The study, which was published in the Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention publication, identify other parts of the body that show an increased risk of acquiring cancer if a woman has gum disease. The risks for cancers of the esophagus and gallbladder, which are linked to chronic inflammation, were also high.
According to the lead author of the study, professor of epidemiology Jean Wactawscki-Wende, Ph.D., the study was expansive enough and provided sufficient detail to both assess older women’s general risk of cancer if they have gum disease and to relay enough valuable data about cancer-specific sites of the body. The study is also the first of its kind to present a connection between the state of a person’s gums and gallbladder cancer.
Additional research is needed to understand the link between gum disease and cancer fully. A woman’s oral health at an older age may be a measure that should be included for screening to assess the risk of cancer.
One of the best defenses against developing gum disease is making sure that you routinely brush and floss your teeth and visit your dentist regularly. Your Toms River Dentist can give you comprehensive examinations that can catch the early signs of gum disease and can recommend the proper treatment needed to reverse it.