Researchers have found a link between gum disease and breast cancer. The risk increses if woman had the history of smoking as well
Researchers have found that middle-aged and older women with gum disease are at high risk of developing breast cancer particularly if they have a history of smoking too.
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Women with gum disease or periodontal disease have 14% increased risk of breast cancer, compared to those who do not have gum disease. The risk jumps to more than 30% if they also smoked or had smoked in the past 20 years.
“Periodontal disease is a common condition, and it has been shown to be associated with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes,” said lead author Jo Freudenheim from University at Buffalo. “Previous research has found links between periodontal disease and oral, esophageal, head and neck, pancreatic, and lung cancers, so we wanted to see if there was any relationship with breast cancer.”
For the study, researchers monitored more than 70,000 postmenopausal women who participated in Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. None of the women had the history of breast cancer. After an average follow up of seven years, more than 2,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Researchers have found that among all women, the risk of breast cancer was 14% high in women who had gum disease. Those who were smoking at the time of study and also had gum disease were at 32 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Women who had quit smoking within the past 20 years and were suffering from gum disease too, had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer while those who had never smoked or had quit smoking more than 20 years ago had the least chances of developing breast cancer, 6 and 8 percent respectively if they had gum disease.
“We know that the bacteria in the mouths of current and former smokers who quit recently are different from those in the mouths of nonsmokers.” Dr Freudenheim explained.
However, researchers believe the study is not conclusive. Further researchers are required to confirm the link between gum disease and breast cancer.
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“If we can study periodontal disease and breast cancer in other populations and if we can do more detailed study of the characteristics of the periodontal disease, it would help us understand there is a relationship,” said Freudenheim. “There is still much to understand about the role, if any, of oral bacteria and breast cancer.”