New Research Regarding Gum Disease and Cancer Risk in Older Women

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 47 percent of adults from age 30 and older have some form of gum disease, and for adults 65 and older the number is higher, reaching 70 percent.

Until now, there have been very few studies on periodontal (gum) disease as a risk factor for cancer, and none have focused on postmenopausal women, which is why a new study conducted by a team at the University of Buffalo has caught our attention.

This study was comprised of over 65,000 postmenopausal women, ages 54 to 86. All of the participants were part of the Women’s Health Initiative. Information regarding gum disease was obtained through self-report questionnaires given between 1999 and 2003. Cancer outcomes occurred through September 2013, with a maximum follow-up period of 15 years.

During the average follow-up of 8.32 years, 7,149 cancers were identified. This led the team to conclude that periodontal disease increases risk of total cancer among older women.

The study’s senior author, Jean Wactawski-Wende, stated that the study was “sufficiently large and detailed enough to examine not just overall risk of cancer among older women with periodontal disease, but also to provide useful information on a number of cancer-specific sites.”

Prevention and Treatment of Gum Disease

Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. However, more extensive treatments from your dentist may be required to treat more severe forms of gum disease.

It is always important to remember to brush and floss every day to remove bacteria from the mouth and to schedule regular appointments with your dentist for annual or semi-annual cleanings.

If you find that you have swollen or bleeding gums, it is important to tell your dentist. The earlier you deal with it, the better chance you have to fight it.