People who have periodontal (gum) disease may have a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer, suggests a letter published in the journal Gut detailing a prospective study. US researchers found that a history of periodontal disease appeared to be associated with a raised risk of oesophageal cancer and stomach cancer, and this risk was also higher among people who had lost teeth previously.
Previous findings on the relationship of periodontal disease and tooth loss with oesophageal and gastric cancer have been inconsistent. Therefore, a team of researchers from Harvard in Boston, carried out a study of data on patients with decades of follow up.
They examined the association of history of periodontal disease and tooth loss with the risk of oesophageal and stomach 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).
Dental measures, demographics, lifestyle, and diet were assessed using follow-up questionnaires and self-reported cancer diagnosis was confirmed after reviewing medical records. The results showed that during 22-28 years of follow-up, there were 199 cases of oesophageal cancer and 238 cases of stomach cancer.
A history of periodontal disease was associated with a 43% and 52% increased risk of oesophageal cancer and stomach cancer, respectively. Compared to people with no tooth loss, the risks of oesophageal and stomach cancer for those who lost two or more teeth were also modestly higher — 42% and 33%, respectively.