Gum Disease Linked to Throat Cancer

Gum Disease Linked to Throat Cancer

Add just one more reason why you always need to regularly visit our Castle Rock family dentistry: The bacteria linked to the development of gum disease are now linked to an increased risk for developing esophageal cancer.

In the study, researchers tracked the oral health of more than 122,000 Americans for a decade. It discovered that the presence of two types of oral bacteria linked to gum disease may increase cancer risk.

The presence of one particular bacteria, known as Tannerella forsythia, was linked to a 21 percent increase in the risk for developing esophageal tumors, reported researchers from NYU Langone Health in New York City.

In previous studies, gum disease has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. However, researchers noted that while an increased risk of esophageal cancer was noted in the study, no cause and effect relationship was established.

“What is not clear is whether the presence of these bacteria or the resultant periodontal disease is primarily responsible for the development of cancer,” wrote researchers on their study results.

Still, researchers believe that specialists should “consider a proper evaluation of the oral cavity as well as the remainder of the digestive tract in the hope of early diagnosis of esophageal cancer.”

The Risk of Cancer

Esophageal cancer ranks as the eighth most common form of the disease and the sixth leading cause of cancer related death worldwide. Because the disease is often only diagnosed during its late stages, five-year survival rates are only between 15 to 25 percent.

“Esophageal cancer is a highly fatal cancer, and there is an urgent need for new avenues of prevention, risk stratification, and early detection,” wrote Dr. Jiyoung Ahn, the study’s lead researcher.

However, the results of the study weren’t all bad: Researchers did discover that some types of oral bacteria were actually linked to a lower risk of esophageal cancer.

Researchers hope that the more they learn about the bacteria that lives naturally in the mouth the better able science will be able to identify, diagnose, and treat esophageal cancer in the future.

Protecting Your Health

As the results of this and other studies show, the link between our oral health and overall health can greatly influence our future. Other studies have found compelling links between gum disease and a number of chronic illnesses that include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

So while it might be tempting to think of your oral health as only relating to your teeth and gums, the truth is far more complicated. As a result, you need to place your oral health and dental care as a top priority. That means brushing and flossing daily and scheduling regular exams and cleanings at our Castle Rock family dentistry.

By better protecting the long-term health of your teeth and gums, you can successfully lower your risk for a range of chronic diseases. So the next time you consider skipping brushing or forget to floss, remember that it’s not just the state of your smile that has something to lose.

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