Skip to content

Oral Care

Font Size

Gum Disease May Raise Cancer Risk

Study Shows Small Increase in Cancer Risk in Men With History of Gum Disease
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 27, 2008 -- Men with a history of gum disease may be more likely than other men to develop cancer, a new study shows.

The study included more than 48,000 male health care workers who were followed from 1986 through January 2004.

When the study started, the men were asked if they had a history of gum disease with bone loss. They also answered questions about their diet, physical activity, smoking, and medical history.

The men completed health surveys every two years and dietary surveys every four years.

During the study, the group had 5,720 new cases of cancer, not counting nonmelanoma skin cancer or prostate cancer that hadn't spread beyond the prostate.

Compared to men with healthy gums, men with a history of gum disease were:

  • 14% more likely to develop cancer overall
  • 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer
  • 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer
  • 30% more likely to develop blood cancers

Those results take various risk factors into consideration.

The findings show a "small, but significant increase in overall cancer risk," write the researchers, who included Dominique Michaud, ScM, of Imperial College London.

Michaud's team notes that inflammation from gum disease may play a role, but observational studies like this one don't prove cause and effect, so more research is needed to check the findings, which appear in The Lancet Oncology.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

close up of woman sticking out tongue
Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
toothbrushes
10 secrets to a brighter smile.
 
Veneer smile
Before and after.
Woman checking her bite in mirror
Why dental care is important.
 

Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
Slideshow
woman with jaw pain
Quiz
 
eroded front teeth
Slideshow
brushing teeth
Video
 

Variety shades of tea
Slideshow
mouth and dental instruments
Article
 
Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
Tool
womans smile
Video