A new study from Harvard has linked gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, to pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has been named as the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. According to the Harvard School of Public Health , more than 30,000 Americans are expected to lose their lives to pancreatic cancer this year.
While there have been many studies documenting the link between poor oral hygiene and other medical problems, such as heart disease and stroke, this is the first study to find a solid link that gum disease could actually increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
This particular study began in 1986 and documented over 50,000 men working in health professions. Between 1986 and 2002, researchers verified 216 cases of pancreatic cancer, with 67 of those cases having periodontal disease. In summary, after adjusting for factors such as diabetes, smoking and others, the findings showed that the men with gum disease were 63% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer by rate of comparison than men that did not have gum disease.
Dr. Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard, states that one possible reason for the link between gum disease and pancreatic cancer could be that Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, and these may somehow contribute to the promotion of cancer cells. Dr. Michaud also offers another explanation that a person with periodontal disease has increased levels of carcinogens and oral bacteria in their mouth.
Gum Disease is an infection in the gums surrounding the teeth. Gum disease is also one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults. There are two major stages of gum disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis.