Evidence from a recent study demonstrated a potential link between periodontitis and cancer. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which published the research, is a peer-reviewed medical journal that shares the latest information about cancer research and medical treatment.
Cancer Rates in America
Cancer is very prevalent in America and is widely considered one of the main causes of death and illness. According to statistics from the National Cancer Institute, almost 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. An estimated 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Researchers expect almost 700,000 people to die from cancer in 2018.
The most common types of cancer include breast cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma of the skin. Lung cancer, colon and rectum cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and thyroid cancer are other prolific types of cancer affecting the health of Americans. Meanwhile, the percentage of people being diagnosed with leukemia, endometrial cancer, liver cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, and pancreatic cancer are also increasing every year.
A 2016 survey by The National Cancer Institute state an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors are living in the United States. The research institute also reports men experience higher rates of mortality when diagnosed with cancer. Due to the harsh chemicals found in our food, air, and consumer products, the rate of cancer is expected to grow in the future, with a projected estimate of 20.3 million cancer survivors by 2026.
The collaborative study, which was titled “Periodontal Disease Assessed Using Clinical Dental Measurements and Cancer Risk in the ARIC Study,” was conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the Kimmel Cancer Center. The study examined the link between severe periodontal disease and cancer rates among elderly African American and Caucasian patients.
For the study, the researchers used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study cohort which ran from 1996 to 2012 which evaluated the oral health of 7,466 total participants from the southern states of North Carolina, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Maryland. The researchers evaluated the participant’s comprehensive dental exams and found that 1,648 of the total 7,466 participants were eventually diagnosed with cancer. By the end of the almost 15-year study, 547 of the participants with cancer had died.
The study found participants with severe periodontitis had a 24% greater chance of developing cancer than other people who only little or no periodontal disease. The researchers diagnosed the participants with severe periodontitis if more than 30% of their oral sites had a greater than 3 mm attachment loss.
At the end of the study, investigators realized the evidence suggested that periodontal disease was associated with higher chances of developing lung cancer and colon cancer. Participants with severe periodontitis doubled their chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer when compared to participants with mild to no periodontal disease. Meanwhile, patients who were edentulous were 80% more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer. This study showed no correlation between periodontal disease and other types of cancer.
Based on their findings, the scientists believe they have found more evidence supporting the possible link between periodontal disease and elevated cancer risk. The investigators would like to have an additional study to learn more about how ethnicity may affect the presence of periodontitis and their chance of experiencing colon and lung cancer.
This recent study demonstrates the importance of oral health and how patients with periodontitis are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with serious health issues like cancer in the future.