Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gum disease increases breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women

History of smoking significantly affects the link

Image courtesy: National Institute
of Dental and Craniofacial Research
CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 24, 2015 – Research has shown that taking care of your teeth and gums can prevent a lot of diseases you don’t want. Adding to the body of evidence, a new study shows that postmenopausal women with gum disease were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not have the chronic inflammatory condition, and a history of smoking significantly increased the risk, researchers report.

Periodontal disease affects the gums and other tissues around the teeth. It is a common condition that has been associated with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Previous research has found links between periodontal disease and oral, esophageal, head and neck, pancreatic, and lung cancers.

Jo L. Freudenheim, PhD, and colleagues at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions wanted to see if there was any relationship with breast cancer. They monitored 73,737 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, none of whom had previous breast cancer. Their study appears in the Dec. 21, 2015 journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

After following the women for an average of 6.7 years, they found that periodontal disease was reported in 26.1 percent of the women and there were 2,124 women diagnosed with breast cancer. The researchers found that among all women, the risk of breast cancer was 14 percent higher in the women who had periodontal disease.

Because prior research has shown that the effects of periodontal disease vary depending on whether a person smokes, the researchers then examined the association by smoking status.

Current smokers who had periodontal disease had a 32 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Those with periodontal disease who had never smoked had a 6 percent increased risk and those who had quit smoking more than 20 years ago had an 8 percent increased risk of breast cancer.

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