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Gum Disease and Breast Cancer Link

Special Reports

Each year about 50,000 people in Britain and Northern Ireland receive the traumatic news that they have breast cancer.

 

A person's risk of developing breast cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics and exposure to risk factors such as obesity, alcohol and smoking. Now researchers at Buffalo University in America have found a possible connection between gum disease and breast cancer.

A recent study found that postmenopausal women are more likely to develop breast cancer if they suffer from gum disease. Those women with a history of
smoking are particularly affected. The researchers monitored just over 73,000 women and found that 26 per cent of them had gum disease.

Smoking has long been known to make gum disease worse so the researchers factored smoking status into their findings. The researchers found that among all
the women, the risk of breast cancer was 14 per cent higher in those who had gum disease. Women who smoked had a 32 per cent higher risk of breast cancer if they had gum disease, but the association was not statistically significant.

The actual mode of action between gum disease and breast cancer is not fully understood. One suggestion is that the chronic inflammatory response caused by
gum disease could provide the link. It may be that the gum disease bacteria and their inflammatory products enter the bloodstream and circulate around the body; ultimately affecting breast tissue.

Bleeding gums, bad breath and loose teeth are all signs of gum disease. Gum disease presents in different people in different ways. For instance in some people the gums swell up, bleed and turn purple; while in others the gum recedes, exposing more of the tooth root. In many smokers, the cigarettes have stunted the blood vessels in the mouth to such an extent that even when there is extensive gum disease the gums don't bleed.

The good news is that gums can be restored to health. Essentially, treatment can stop the inflammation reaction caused by gum disease, benefitting not only your oral health but more critically your overall body health. The first port of call is to arrange a visit toyour dentist.

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