Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gum disease increases cancer 'risk'

A new study warns that chronic gum disease, which had long been linked to heart attack and stroke, is a risk factor for cancers of the head and neck.

According to the study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, chronic periodontitis, an advanced gum disease determined by progressive loss of bone and soft tissue that surround the teeth, is associated with increased risk of head and neck tumors.

Periodontitis significantly increases the risk of head and neck cancer even in subjects who had never used tobacco and alcohol. With each millimeter of alveolar bone loss, the risk of developing head and neck cancer is reported to increase by more than 4-fold.

Scientists believe that their findings explain the reason for which the rate of head and neck cancer continues to climb despite the considerable decline in smoking rates in the past 40 years.