Can Stopping Gum Disease Stop Cancer?
Chronic periodontitis, a form of gum disease, is an independent risk factor for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. This suggests the need for increased efforts to prevent and treat periodontitis as a possible means to reduce the risk of this form of cancer.
Prevent periodontitis; if you have it already, get treatment and maintain good oral hygiene," said Mine Tezal, D.D.S., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Buffalo. Results of this study are published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Chronic periodontitis is characterized by progressive loss of the bone and soft tissue attachment that surround the teeth. The researchers assessed the role of chronic periodontitis on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, as well as the individual roles on three subsites: oral cavity, oropharyngeal and laryngeal. They used radiographic measurement of bone loss to measure periodontitis among 463 patients; 207 of whom were controls.
Findings showed that chronic periodontitis might represent a clinical high-risk profile for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The strength of the association was greatest in the oral cavity, followed by the oropharynx and larynx, according to Tezal.
Andrew Olshan, Ph.D., said these results lend further support to the potential importance of poor oral health in this form of cancer. Olshan is professor in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"The study of poor oral health including the possible carcinogenic role of microorganisms is part of a rapidly growing interest in how a community of microbes that live in the various environments of the human body can affect health," Olshan said. "Although the study is comparatively small, the researchers were able to also see an association between bone loss and the risk of head and neck cancer."
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