Gum disease is an extremely common condition that ranges from the mild gingivitis to the severe form of periodontitis.
With these more severe forms, gum disease has been connected with a variety of problems that can affect our overall health, including diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke, and it is thought that the chronic inflammation caused by gum disease could be the culprit.
Recently, researchers from the State University of New York University at Buffalo decided to investigate whether there was any relationship between gum disease and breast cancer.
The team chose to examine nearly 74,000 women who were postmenopausal and enrolled within a long-term observational study of women's health. None of these women had a previous history of cancer, but about 26% had gum disease.
Follow up with these women occurred an average of 6.7 years later, at which time it was determined that 2,124 had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The researchers determined that among all of the women, the risk of developing breast cancer was 14% higher among those who have gum disease.
Further important information was also gathered from this study. Among the women who had quit smoking within the previous 20 years, those who had gum disease had a 36% greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Women who smoked during the study had a 32% greater risk if they had gum disease, and women who had never smoked had a 6% greater risk.
Good news for smokers who had quit more than 20 years ago - they only had an 8% increase if they also had gum disease.
While there are some limitations to this study, the information presented should let women know about the importance of preventing gum disease, especially if they have a history of smoking. This starts with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups and exams.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the link between gum disease and breast cancer.