Oral Health: Gum Disease Increases Breast Cancer Risk
Research suggests that postmenopausal women with gum disease are more likely to develop breast cancer than postmenopausal women who don’t have gum disease. Why? Let’s discuss the breast cancer oral health link.
If a woman has a history of smoking, the risk of breast cancer may be even higher
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, can range from simple inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis, to periodontitis, when the gums pull away from the teeth leaving open spaces that become infected. The bacteria causing the infection and the body’s response to the infection can break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. If periodontitis isn’t treated, the teeth may become loose and must be removed.
Gum disease can be prevented by regular tooth brushing and flossing.
Gum disease has been associated with several other diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Past research has found links between gum disease and oral, esophageal, head and neck, pancreatic, and lung cancer.
Let’s discuss the research showing gum disease increases breast cancer risk.
So … are there any links between gum disease and breast cancer?
A study has found that postmenopausal women with gum disease were more likely to develop breast cancer than postmenopausal women who didn’t have gum disease.
If the women had a history of smoking, the risk of breast cancer was even higher.
The study was published online on Dec. 21, 2015 by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Read the abstract of “Periodontal Disease and Breast Cancer: Prospective Cohort Study of Postmenopausal Women.” The research is part of the very large Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, commonly called the WHI. The WHI is looking for links between health, diet, lifestyle, and genetic factors and health problems, such as cancer.
In this study:
- the researchers monitored 73,737 postmenopausal women in the WHI who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- About 26% of the women told the researchers they had gum disease.
- After about 6.5 years, 2,124 women had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Overall, the risk of breast cancer was 14% higher in women who had gum disease compared to women who didn’t have gum disease.
- So, if average breast cancer risk is about 12%, a woman with gum disease had about a 13.5% risk of breast cancer.
Does Smoking Have an Effect?
Because earlier studies have shown that the effects of gum disease can be more severe if a person smokes, the researchers also grouped the women by smoking history:
- Among women who had quit smoking within the last 20 years, women with gum disease had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t have gum disease.
- Among women who had never smoked, women with gum disease had a 6% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t have gum disease.
- Among women who had quit smoking more than 20 years ago, women with gum disease had an 8% higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t have gum disease.
Gum Disease and Breast Cancer
The researchers said there are several possible reasons for the association between gum disease and breast cancer:
Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream through tooth brushing, flossing, and chewing. Even though the bacteria are cleared out of the body quickly, the cumulative exposure to tissues can be considerable. It could be that these bacteria affect breast cancer.
Inflammation in one part of the body, such as the gums, may have an impact on other diseases.
Other Factors Increase the Risk
There may be other factors that increase the risk of both gum disease and breast cancer.
Decrease Your Risk for Breast Cancer
Now that you know of the breast cancer oral health link. Doing all that you can do to keep your breast cancer risk as low as it can be makes good sense.
Here are steps you can take to control several risk factors:
- exercising regularly
- eating a healthy diet
- maintaining a healthy weight
- not smoking
- avoiding alcohol
- taking good care of your teeth and gums
Decrease Your Risk for Gum Disease
Decreasing your risk is important because we know about the breast cancer oral health link, where gum disease increases breast cancer risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, gum disease can be kept in check by:
- Brushing and flossing your teeth every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease
- Seeing a dentist at least once a year for a checkup, or more frequently if you have any of the warning signs of gum disease:
- red/swollen gums
- tender/bleeding gums
- loose teeth
- bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth that won’t go way
- gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- sensitive teeth
Making a Difference One Dental Exam at a Time
Now you understand why keeping your gums healthy is such an important task – the breast cancer oral health link where gum disease increases breast cancer risk! AND you know what to do to help keep you and your smile in the best possible health and avoid Gum Disease. Why almost half of Americans suffer some form of gum disease, why wait??
Regular dental exams and cleaning is wonderful preventative care. Although you may be brushing and flossing really well at home, tartar and plaque is impossible to remove with regular brushing and flossing, and can build-up over time. Dentists are able to use specific tools to remove that plaque and tartar, keeping our mouth cleaner and our chances of other complications much lower.
When almost half of Americans suffer some form of gum disease, why wait?
Now you understand why keeping your gums healthy is such an important task – gum disease increases breast cancer! AND you know what to do to help keep you and your smile in the best possible health and avoid Gum Disease.
At the offices of Thomas L. Anderson, DDS and Associates, we take your oral health seriously and want to help you avoid gum disease by checking your oral health and every scheduled cleaning. We are also happy to answer any gum disease questions you have. Take the time to be extra diligent in your normal oral health routine to reduce your risk for gum disease.
If you have questions or concerns about your gum health, please give us a call, Dr. Anderson and his experienced dental team will be happy to schedule your dental appointment and help you keep your gums, teeth and mouth healthy. Please call our office at 816-373-4440 to schedule your dental appointment.
Contact us today to schedule your dental appointment and meet with our skilled dentists at one of our three conveniently located dental office locations within the Kansas City area, including Lee’s Summit / Independence, the Country Club Plaza and Downtown Kansas City. The gentle dentists and expert team at Thomas L. Anderson and Associates look forward to working with you to treat your dental emergency, achieve proper oral health and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. If you have any questions about your dental insurance benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to review your policy! Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment and become part of our dental family.
The information in this blog has been provided by Breastcancer.org. For more information on breast cancer risk and other steps you can take to minimize your risk, visit the Breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk section.