Cavities Tied to Lower Risk of Head, Neck Cancer
Bacteria involved in cavity formation may have some cancer-protective effect, researcher says, but skeptics aren't sure
"The authors and correlation do not prove cause and effect," he said. "Also, even if caries is associated with reduced cancer risk -- seems very unlikely -- the dental damage, and infection risk of dental disease carries its own risk."
More in-depth studies that "must be done are not done -- this is a real problem of statistical correlation," Epstein said.
Another expert agreed that the findings are preliminary, but said that if confirmed, they might lead to new ways to prevent or treat head and neck cancers.
"We see a mechanism that may protect against mouth cancer, and may be a potential strategy either as part of prevention or treatment of oral cavity cancer," said Dr. Dennis Kraus, director of the Center for Head & Neck Oncology at the New York Head & Neck Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.
"This is a fascinating first step," Kraus said.