Severe gum disease linked to lung, colon cancers

New York: Do you have bad oral health? Beware, you may be at high risk of developing cancers of lung, colon and pancreas, researchers have warned.

Advanced gum disease, also called periodontitis, is caused by bacterial infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth.

The findings, led by researchers from the Tufts University in the US, showed that participants who were edentulous or lacking teeth — a sign of severe periodontitis — had an 80 per cent increase in risk of developing colon cancer.

Among those who never smoked, a two-fold higher risk of developing lung cancer and colorectal cancer was observed for participants with severe periodontitis, revealed that study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Another study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, showed that the Treponema denticola (Td) bacteria which causes periodontitis also plays a part in the onset of pancreatic cancer.

The study, by researchers from the University of Helsinki, proved that the bacteria can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body and cause tumours.

Periodontitis is also linked with pancreatic cancer mortality, proved another study, involving some 70,000 Finns and published in the International Journal of Cancer.

A low-grade systemic inflammation related to periodontitis facilitates the spreading of oral bacteria and their virulence factors to other parts of the body.

“These studies have demonstrated for the first time that the virulence factors of the central pathogenic bacteria underlying gum disease are able to spread from the mouth to other parts of the body, most likely in conjunction with the bacteria, and take part in central mechanisms of tissue destruction related to cancer,” said Timo Sorsa, a professor at the Helsinki University.

The prevention and early diagnosis of periodontitis, thus, are very important not only for patients’ oral health, but their overall well-being, the researchers noted.