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 how gum disease increases breast cancer risk.
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.
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.
“We thought that periodontal bacteria — either the bacteria themselves or the inflammation that’s part of having periodontal disease — has an effect on other parts of the body, including breast tissue. We know there are bacteria in breast tissue, and we know there are bacteria in mother’s milk. Women who had periodontal disease had a small increase in the risk of breast cancer overall,”
said Jo Freudenheim, Ph.D., distinguished professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University of Buffalo and lead author of the study.
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:
“There’s been an explosion of information recently that makes it clear that many different parts of the body that were thought to be sterile contain bacteria and other microbes,” Dr. Freudenheim said. “These bacteria may influence diseases that were previously thought to have no infectious component.”
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.
There may be other factors that increase the risk of both gum disease and breast cancer.
“This is a new area, so we have to be careful in how we interpret our findings,” said Dr. Freudenheim. “We can’t say, ‘if you treat periodontal disease it will reduce cancer risk.’ There are new methodologies that allow us to measure things we weren’t able to before. We are now beginning to understand how much the interaction of the microbiome affects our health both in terms of acute infections and chronic diseases.”
Now that you know gum disease increases breast cancer risk. 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:
Decreasing your rish is important because we know gum disease increases breast cancer risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, gum disease can be kept in check by:
Learn more: Regular Dental Exams and Cleanings can help you Avoid Gum Disease
Now you understand why keeping your gums healthy is such an important task – 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.
We are excited to let you know that we are now offering our very own affordable dental membership plan that covers all your preventative care and gives you discounts on other procedures. It is a simple and budget-friendly dental plan offered directly from our practice — so you can access the care you want and deserve, for less. Learn more: Get Affordable Dental Care with our Affordable Membership Plan
Local dentist, Travis A. Roberts and his experienced, friendly team at Adams Dental Group offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the Kansas City, KS area. We have two locations that are conveniently located and offer appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At Adams Dental Group, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to specialty procedures, including dental implants, dentures, endodontic or root canal treatment, teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at our West location (913) 296-8030 or our East location (913) 621-3113 to schedule an appointment.
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.
Dr. Travis A. Roberts, DDS October 4th, 2022
Posted In: Periodontal | Gum Disease