March 23, 2023

A research team at Severance Hospital has found that patients with periodontal disease have a higher risk of suffering from cancer, stressing the need for proper dental care.
Periodontal disease causes gum inflammation due to increased bacteria in the mouth that causes plaque to become toxic. If patients do not remove plaque quickly, it will gradually become hard calculus and worsen the symptoms. In addition, a patient with periodontal disease can increase inflammatory factors, such as interleukin and TNF-alpha, in the bloodstream, increasing the risk of systemic inflammatory diseases and cancer.
The research team, led by Professors Kim Han-sang at Yonsei Cancer Center, Jung In-kyung at Yonsei University College of Medicine, and Kim Baek-il at Yonsei University College of Dentistry, compared and analyzed the cancer incidence rates of 710,000 people by dividing them into two groups — 50,000 patients with periodontal disease and 660,000 without periodontal disease — over a decade.
To analyze cancer risk, the research team investigated the occurrence of various cancers for a decade. The researchers derived the relative risk of cancer by correcting potential confounders of risk prediction, such as age, sex, and smoking history, according to the hospital.
The result showed that the relative risk of overall cancer increased by about 13 percent in the patient group with periodontal disease compared to the group without periodontal disease.
Notably, among all carcinomas, patients with periodontal disease had a 39.4 percent higher chance of suffering from blood cancer, closely related to the immune system, than those without periodontal disease.
The team also found that there was a higher risk of bladder cancer (30.7 percent), thyroid cancer (19.1 percent), colon cancer (12.9 percent), lung cancer (12.7 percent), and stomach cancer (13.6 percent) in patients with periodontal disease.
“By examining the correlation between periodontal disease and increased cancer incidence, we confirmed that active oral care in addition to smoking cessation, exercise, and vegetarianism can help lower the incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer,” Professor Kim Han-sang said. “Further research is needed to determine whether periodontal disease is a direct cause of cancer.”
Frontiers in Oncology published the results of the research in its latest issue.


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