The study included more than 48,000 male health care workers who were followed from 1986 through January 2004.
The men completed health surveys every two years and dietary surveys every four years.
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.