About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in the United States. Despite the advancements in cancer fighting technology, this is still a frightening and sobering statistic. Prevention is our greatest ally in the fight against breast cancer, and seemingly small actions have proven to greatly reduce the risk.
For instance, did you know that gum disease has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer?
A recent study from the University of Buffalo revealed that the women who’ve suffered from periodontal disease are 14% more likely to develop breast cancer.The reasons for this are still under review, but it’s suspected that gum bacteria, if not treated, can enter the blood stream and spread to breast tissue. Scientists stress that more research is needed to validate the claim, but the correlation is notable.
Gum disease is a common affliction, yet it has been proven to lead to more serious conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Previous studies have also linked it to other cancers, including those afflicting the mouth, esophagus, pancreas and lung. The idea that it could cause breast cancer is not surprising.
In the study, scientists studied 73,737 postmenopausal women with no prior history of breast cancer. Of those test subjects, about 26% had previously or currently had gum disease. The study followed the women over the course of seven years. After the duration, scientists found that of the original subjects, 2,124 had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and those who had suffered gum disease had a 14% higher risk of breast cancer. The research also indicates periodontal disease presents a higher risk than smoking: subjects who had not smoked in over 20 years experienced a 36% higher risk of breast cancer if they had gum disease.
Some factors that may indicate more research is needed include the fact that some women self-diagnosed their own gum disease, rather than having a dentist validate the condition. They were also more likely to receive regular medical and dental care—which is often not the case with the general population. These factors don’t invalidate the correlations, but do prompt more research from scientists.
The potential link between gum disease and breast cancer is one that no one should take lightly. If proper oral hygiene and gum care can prevent breast cancer, it’s in everyone’s best interest to do so.
At Enchanting Dentistry of Plantation, we offer services that can keep your mouth and gums healthy. We offer screenings performed by a team of certified hygienists who are trained to treat and detect early signs of gum disease. Procedures known as scaling and root planning remove tarter below the gum line, where toxins collect and lead to further periodontal issues. Surgery can remove gum disease if all other less invasive tactics don’t work.
Brushing and flossing twice daily is the best, most economical fight against gum disease and, potentially, breast cancer. Regular visits to the dentist (once every six months) and cleanings from professional dental hygienists are also great methods in preventing gum disease.