Written By Kevin Kerfoot / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Recent research claims that people who have periodontal disease may have a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer. The research - published in the journal Gut - found that a history of periodontal disease appeared to be associated with a raised risk of esophageal and gastric cancer and this risk was also higher among people who had lost teeth previously.
The researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston examined the association of history of periodontal disease and tooth loss with the risk of esophageal and gastric cancer in 98,459 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1992-2014) and 49,685 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1988-2016).
The results showed that during 22 to 28 years of follow-up, there were 199 cases of esophageal cancer and 238 cases of gastric cancer. A history of periodontal disease was associated with a 43 percent and 52 percent increased risk of esophageal cancer and gastric cancer, respectively.
Compared to people with no tooth loss, the risks of esophageal and gastric cancer for those who lost two or more teeth were also modestly higher - 42 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
Among individuals with a history of periodontal disease, no tooth loss and losing one or more teeth were equally associated with a 59 percent increased risk of esophageal cancer compared to those with no history of periodontal disease and no tooth loss. The same group of individuals had 50 percent and 68 percent greater risk of gastric cancer, respectively.
Link between poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease
Possible reasons for an association between oral bacteria and esophageal and gastric cancer, with evidence from other studies, suggest that tannerella forsythia and porphyromonas gingivalis - members of the red complex of periodontal pathogens - were associated with the presence or risk of esophageal cancer.
Another possible reason is that poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease could promote the formation of endogenous nitrosamines known to cause gastric cancer through nitrate-reducing bacteria.
"Together, these data support the importance of oral microbiome in esophageal and gastric cancer,” the study states. “Further prospective studies that directly assess oral microbiome are warranted to identify specific oral bacteria responsible for this relationship. The additional findings may serve as readily accessible, non-invasive biomarkers and help identify individuals at high risk for these cancers."
Can common oral infections in childhood increase the risk of atherosclerosis in adulthood?
The association between childhood oral infections and adulthood carotid atherosclerosis was observed at the University of Helsinki, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases for The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study published in JAMA Network Open.
More progressed oral infections and inflammations – or endodontic lesions and periodontitis - are known to be associated with several cardiovascular risk factors and disease risk in adults. In adults periodontitis has been studied extensively and is considered an independent risk factor for atherosclerotic vascular diseases. The treatment of periodontitis is also known to decrease cardiovascular risk factors.
From all children, 68 percent, 87 percent, and 82 percent had bleeding, caries, and fillings, respectively. There were no differences between the boys and the girls. Slight periodontal pocketing was observed in 54 percent of the children, and it was more frequent in the boys than in the girls.
Only five percent of the examined mouths were totally healthy, whereas 61 percent and 34 percent of the children had one to three signs and four signs of oral infections, respectively.
A closer look at caries and periodontal disease
Both caries and periodontal diseases in childhood were significantly associated with carotid artery intima-media thickness in adulthood. Thickening of the carotid artery wall indicates the progression of atherosclerosis and an increased risk for myocardial or cerebral infarction.
"The observation is novel, since there are no earlier follow-up studies on childhood oral infections and the risk of cardiovascular diseases," says docent Pirkko Pussinen from the University of Helsinki.
"The number of signs associated significantly with the cumulative exposure to the cardiovascular risk factors in adulthood, but especially in childhood," added professor Markus Juonala from the University of Turku. "Oral infections were an independent risk factor for subclinical atherosclerosis; and their association with cardiovascular risk factors persevered through the entire follow-up. Prevention and treatment of oral infections is important already in childhood."
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.