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Research Shows a Link Between Periodontal Disease and Breast Cancer

periodontal disease linked to breast cancerBreast cancer or just the “big C” in general is a horrible disease to suffer from or to watch a loved one suffer from. In the U.S. breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Periodontal disease is extremely serious and without proper care it can be linked between many other diseases, but research has discovered that there is now a new risk to be added to that list: breast cancer. Many women suffer from breast cancer, which is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells, but women who are postmenopausal and suffer from periodontal disease are more likely to develop breast cancer than those without, especially if they are smokers.

Despite the fact that oral-associated microbes have been found in breast tumors, very little research had been done on the link between periodontal disease and cancer. Recently The University at Buffalo has done research and discovered that gum disease has in fact been linked to breast cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. They monitored over 73,000 women who were postmenopausal, 26.1 percent of those women had periodontal disease at the beginning of the study.

At the end of the study, 6.7 years later, 2,124 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and throughout all of the women in the study those with periodontal disease had a 14 percent higher risk of breast cancer.

Research has shown several possible causes for the link to periodontal disease, such as:

  • When brushing, flossing and chewing, bacteria from the oral cavity get into the bloodstream and although the bacteria is cleared rather quickly, there is sizable exposure to tissues. Long term exposure to the breast tissue could be the cause.
  • Another possible cause that could impact chronic diseases is inflammation in other parts of the body.

Previous to the research done at The University at Buffalo only three very small studies were done in order to discover the link between periodontal disease and breast cancer. Because of  the small size of these studies they weren’t able to examine the possible effects from smoking and the research showed no significant increase in risk. However, the study done at The University at Buffalo was able to do their research on a much larger-scale of women, which allowed them to look more closely at how smoking affected the relationship between periodontal disease and breast cancer.

“There’s been an explosion of information recently that makes it clear that many different parts of the body that were thought to be sterile contain bacteria and other microbes,” Freudenheim says. These bacteria may influence diseases that were previously thought to have no infectious component.”

Periodontal disease or oral disease of any kind is very serious. Now that there has been research that links this disease to breast cancer it makes it even more of an issue for woman, especially for those who are postmenopausal. Having good oral hygiene is important for your health and that includes regular visits to our office. Call today and schedule a checkup. Our trained and knowledgeable staff is ready to make sure you have a healthy mouth.


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Written by: Lauren S. - Half Moon Bay, CA