Stamford Periodontics & Implant Center

Is Periodontal Disease Associated With Cancer?

Several studies have researched about the connection that exists between periodontal disease and cancer. The most recent one showed that women with a history of Periodontal Disease displayed a 14% increase in total cancer risk. The study hypothesised the connection lies in the accumulation of  infected saliva in the esophagus, colon, or the lungs; and then it was conducted at a large-scale on participants that were already enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS). 

The investigation suggests that a history of periodontal disease in women is associated with a considerably higher risk of developing gallbladder, esophageal, breast, lung, or melanoma skin cancer. This is the first national study involving US older women and it involved 93,976 women who enrolled between 1994 and 1998 between ages 50 and 79 years with follow-up data are collected every year.

During the research, self-report follow-up surveys were administered from 1999 to 2003 and continued to keep track of the participants for up to 15 years, evaluating cancer development in the participants through 2013. The follow-up questionnaire of year 5 served as a baseline because it was specifically related to oral health and periodontal disease. However, the women who didn’t the answers for that questionnaire or who didn’t completed the form with all the information were excluded from the study. Some of the exclusion criteria also included having a history of cancer, missing follow-up information from year 5 onwards, and missing information about their smoking status. In total 65,869 postmenopausal women aged 54 to 86 years were excluded from the study. Nonetheless, 7149 of them developed cancer during the 8-year follow-up period.

Aside from demonstrating how periodontal disease associates with several types of cancer, such as breast, esophageal, lung, and melanoma skin cancers and periodontal disease, the study also found a link between gallbladder cancer and periodontal disease. Surprisingly, there’s no apparent relationship between periodontal disease and cancer of the liver, pancreas, or lower digestive tract.

Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, SUNY distinguished professor, and senior investigator of the study, Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD,  also shared the results of the OsteoPerio Study which also explore the risk of cancer related to periodontal disease in women.  The new and ongoing study has over 1000 WHI participants from the University at Buffalo center. Although the group is significantly smaller, the participants underwent comprehensive periodontal assessments, in which the investigators found a higher risk of cancer amongst women with a history of periodontal disease.

Although periodontal disease might have several causes, dental hygiene is key to prevent further health issues. The results of this research are proof that this condition is growing in importance for public health.

According to the CDC, approximately 47.2% of adults over 30 years old in the United States have some kind of periodontal disease, ranging from mild to severe. Additionally, 70% of adults over 65 years old have periodontal disease moderate to severe. Hence, a proper dental hygiene is crucial in order to diminish the risk of periodontal disease.

Here at Samford Periodontics, we are pleased to provide the highest quality of periodontal treatment to Fairfield County through our expert gum disease dentist in Stamford, CT, and also Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, Wilton, and Ridgefield. Make your appointment today at 203.252.2252.


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