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Gum Disease May Increase Your Lung Cancer Risk

  • October 6, 2016

Here’s another reason to get your periodontal disease under control.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death, and a recent review of existing research has shown that a connection may exist between this killer and periodontal disease.

The review, published in the June edition of the Journal of Periodontology, included five studies that involved more than 320,000 participants. Their findings stated “that periodontal disease was associated with a significant risk of lung cancer.”

The data also showed that women who have periodontal disease are more likely than men to develop lung cancer.

One of the studies researchers reviewed suggested that certain oral bacteria may play a role in cancer cells forming in the lungs, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

On the bright side, another study reviewed suggested that treating and managing periodontal disease may significantly reduce a person’s chances of getting lung cancer.

“My hope is that this finding will prompt researchers to look deeper into the lung cancer/gum disease connection,” says Dr. David DiGiallorenzo. “The more we can learn about gum disease’s connection to serious systemic illnesses, the better we can educate the public about the importance of gum disease treatment as an approach to improved overall health.”

It is important to note that although this review identified an increased likelihood for women with gum disease to be diagnosed with lung cancer, they certainly aren’t alone. A different study in The Lancet Oncology found that men with a history of periodontal disease had a 36 percent increased risk of lung cancer, according to the American Dental Association.

Periodontal disease affects one out of every two Americans age 30 and older, and is 2.5 times more prevalent than diabetes, according to the AAP. Periodontal disease has been associated with a variety of cancers, as well as increasing a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke.

The American Cancer Society estimates that lung cancer will claim the lives of approximately 158,000 Americans in 2016. More people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

If you have periodontal disease, it is important that you see a periodontist to get the disease under control. Gum disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed.