Severe gum disease associated with increased risk of cancer: Long-term study links oral bacteria and inflammation to lung, colorectal cancers

A study published in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed that periodontal disease was associated with an increased risk of different types of cancer.

  • A team of health experts led by epidemiologists at the Tufts University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health pooled data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study as part of the research.
  • The cohort included up to 7,466 participants from various U.S. states — such as Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and North Carolina — who were followed up from the late 1990s until 2012.
  • The research team measured the probing depth and gingival recession at six sites on all teeth in order to determine the severity of periodontal disease in patients. Likewise, the experts used two-sided statistical tests to determine the patients’ cancer risk.
  • The results showed that 1,648 patients developed cancer, while 547 died of the disease during a median follow-up of 14.7 years.
  • The study also revealed that the overall cancer risk was higher in patients with severe periodontal disease compared with those who had mild periodontal disease and otherwise healthy controls.
  • The research team also observed a strong correlation between periodontal disease and the onset of colorectal and lung cancer, with the latter being more significant in patients who did not smoke.
  • The scientists added that the overall risk of cancer was weaker or not apparent among black participants, except for lung and colorectal cancers.

The researchers concluded that patients with periodontal disease were at an increased risk of developing lung and colorectal cancer. However, they added that the findings warrant further investigation.

Journal reference:

Dominique S Michaud, Jiayun Lu, Alexandra Y Peacock-Villada, John R Barber, Corinne E Joshu, Anna E Prizment, James D Beck, Steven Offenbacher, Elizabeth A Platz. PERIODONTAL DISEASE ASSESSED USING CLINICAL DENTAL MEASUREMENTS AND CANCER RISK IN THE ARIC STUDY. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djx278

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