New Study Suggests Gum Disease Increases Breast Cancer Risk

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A new study has suggested that gum disease can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers at the University of Buffalo suggested that the findings of their study indicate a link between breast cancer and periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease.

Lead author Jo Freudenheim, from the University’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, stated that the study suggests a link between gum disease and breast cancer risk. However, it is not clear whether gum disease is causative and further research would be hugely beneficial.

Speaking with Reuters Health, professor Freudenheim said that there may be other factors that increase both the risk of gum disease and breast cancer, so an investigation into the potential links would be of interest.

The research team found that the risk was elevated most significantly in women with gum disease who also smoked or had smoked within the last 20 years. During their research, the team analysed data from more than 73,000 women of post-menopausal age. None of the women had breast cancer at the time of registration for the Women’s Health Initiative and Observational Study and around 1 in 4 had gum disease.

The research team analysed regular follow-up data and found that after six and a half years, around 2,100 of the women had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Investigations suggested that those with gum disease had a 14% higher risk of breast cancer than those who didn’t have it. Once researchers had taken additional factors such as smoking, body weight and age into account, they found that the risk was around 11% higher.

Professor Freudenheim suggested that periodontal disease could increase risk either as a result of general inflammation in the body or as a consequence of bacterial lesions, which cause harmful bacteria to circulate around the body in the bloodstream.

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