Everyone knows by now how important oral health is to one’s overall health. There is a recent study that only proves this more. A study, by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, analyzed over 469,000 people in the UK. They investigated the association between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers.
These cancers include liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic cancer. Models were applied to estimate the relationship between cancer risk and self-reported oral health conditions, such as painful or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, and loose teeth. The conclusions show that poor oral health was actually linked to a 75% increased risk in liver cancer.
While no significant associations were observed on the risk of the majority of gastrointestinal cancers and poor oral health, a substantial link was found for hepatobiliary cancer.
“Poor oral health has been associated with the risk of several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes,” explained Dr. Haydée WT Jordão, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and lead author of the study. “However, there is inconsistent evidence on the association between poor oral health and specific types of gastrointestinal cancers, which is what our research aimed to examine.”
Of the 469,628 participants, just over 4,000 developed gastrointestinal cancer during the six-year follow-up. In 13% of these cases, patients reported poor oral health. Interestingly, the participants with poor oral health were more likely to be female, younger, living in deprived socioeconomic areas and typically consumed less than two portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
The biological mechanisms by which poor oral health may be more strongly associated with liver cancer, rather than other digestive cancers, is currently uncertain. One reason is the potential role of the oral and gut microbiome in disease development.
“The liver contributes to the elimination of bacteria from the human body,” stated Dr. Haydée WT Jordão. “When the liver is affected by diseases, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or cancer, its function will decline and bacteria will survive for longer and therefore have the potential to cause more harm. One bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum, originates in the oral cavity but its role in liver cancer is unclear. Further studies investigating the microbiome and liver cancer are therefore warranted.”
Another theory in explaining the higher cancer risk due to poor oral health suggests that participants with a high number of missing teeth may wind up altering their diet, consuming softer and potentially less nutritious foods, which can influence the risk of liver cancer.
Liver cancer is the sixth-highest cancer killer in the European Union. It is claiming the lives of almost 60,000 people per year. The five-year survival rate for the disease across Europe is just 11%. It is believed that up to half of cases of liver cancer are preventable, with risk factors often relating to lifestyle, such as overweight or obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption.
We here at the office of Dr. Max L Lingo, Evansville dentist, agree about the importance of dental health. This is just another reminder. Maybe the time is right to check on your dental health, now. Contact our office now if you need bonding & filling, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, dentures & partials, extractions, sedation dentistry, teeth whitening, teeth cleaning, plaque removal and more.