is the first national study focused on women, particularly older women. Our
study was sufficiently large and detailed enough to examine not just overall
risk of cancer among older women with periodontal disease, but also to provide useful
information on a number of cancer-specific sites," said Jean
Wactawski-Wende, the study's senior author.
team conducted a study that included 65,869 postmenopausal women to investigate
the risk of cancer. The participants had enrolled in the Women's Health
Initiative, an ongoing national prospective study designed to investigate
factors that affect disease and death risk in older American women. Most of the
participants were non-Hispanic white women, and their average age was 68.
‘Gum disease was associated with a 14 percent higher risk of developing any cancer in postmenopausal women. The association was higher for esophageal cancer’
answered a follow-up health questionnaire, of which one question was: "Has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had
periodontal or gum disease.
showed that women who reported a history of gum disease had a 14 percent
increased risk of overall cancer. A total of 7,149 cancers were reported among
the study participants. Of the 7,149 cancers, the majority (2,416) were breast
cancer. Periodontal disease was associated with total cancer risk among former
and current smokers.
increasing evidence that periodontal disease may be linked to an increased
cancer risk and this association warrants further investigation," said,
Ngozi Nwizu, the paper's first author and assistant professor of oral and
maxillofacial pathology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at
Esophageal and Gallbladder Cancer Risk
disease increased the risk of esophageal
The esophagus is in proximity to
the oral cavity, and periodontal pathogens may easily infect the esophageal
mucosa and promote cancer risk at that site, said, Wactawski-Wende, dean of
UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions and a professor of
epidemiology and environmental health.
The risk of
gallbladder cancer was also high in
women with periodontal disease.
inflammation has also been implicated in gallbladder cancer, but there has been
no data on the association between periodontal disease and gallbladder risk.
Ours is the first study to report on such an association," said Nwizu.
The findings of
the study are significant because esophageal cancer
ranks among the most deadly cancers. The etiology of esophageal cancer is not
well known, but the chronic inflammation has been implicated.
disease pathogens have been shown to promote inflammation even in tiny amounts.
These bacteria have been isolated from many organs and some cancers including
esophageal cancers. It is important to establish gum disease as a risk factor
for esophageal cancer so that appropriate preventive measures can be taken.
The findings of
the study are important because they offer a window into the disease in a
population of Americans that continue to increase as people live longer lives.
team also found significantly higher risk of lung cancer, gallbladder cancer,
melanoma, and breast cancer.
Cancers of the lung,
breast, and gallbladder were higher among postmenopausal women who smoked and
had gum disease. However, the risk of melanoma was higher among women who never
smoked, but had gum disease.
pathogens could be carried in saliva and dental plaque into the blood
circulation to reach other organs and contribute to the development of cancer.
Older adults are
more disproportionately affected by gum disease than other age groups. For most
types of cancers, the process of cancer development usually occurs over many
years. The adverse effects of gum disease are more likely to be seen among
postmenopausal women because of their old age.
The findings of
the study were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology,
Biomarkers & Prevention.
is untreated gingivitis that can
lead to tooth loss and other health complications. Heart disease, diabetes,
pulmonary disease, low-birth weight complications in pregnancy have been linked
to periodontal disease. Scientists have found a link between periodontal
disease and cancer.
has been the reason behind the association between certain types of cancers and
periodontitis. Previously conducted studies have shown a link between oral
cancer, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, and esophageal cancer.
- Jo L. Freudenheim, Robert J. Genco, Michael J. LaMonte, Amy E. Millen, Kathleen M. Hovey, Xiaodan Mai, Ngozi Nwizu, Christopher A. Andrews, Jean Wactawski-Wende. Periodontal Disease and Breast Cancer: Prospective Cohort Study of Postmenopausal Women. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. (2017) DOI:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0212