Study Links Gum Disease to Elevated Breast Cancer Risk


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SaludToday Guest Blogger
Jefferson Dental Clinics

Women with gum disease have up to a 36% higher risk of breast cancer, according to a recent study.

That’s alarming given that 6 in 10 Latinos have gum disease (known as periodontal disease)—the highest rates of this condition among all racial/ethnic groups—and Latinas are 20% more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Latinas.

Gum disease, which is mainly caused by poor oral health and smoking, occurs when pockets in the gums form around teeth, allowing the growth of bacteria that can cause teeth to loosen and even fall out.

The connection between gum disease and cancer is profound.

“Women with periodontal disease who were former smokers had a 36% higher risk of breast cancer, women who were smoking at the time of the study had a 32% higher risk of breast cancer, and non-smokers with gum disease were still at a 14% elevated risk,” said Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, Regional Dental Director for Jefferson Dental Clinics.

Gum disease impacts more than breast cancer, too.

“Inflammation caused by gum disease also puts patients at risk of developing heart disease, stroke and other conditions,” Townsend said.

And while good periodontal health won’t eliminate cancer, oral health is essential to general health and physical wellbeing at every stage of life.

Not to mention, gum disease is preventable and treatable with good oral hygiene, Townsend said.

“Twice daily brushing and flossing are the best ways to keep the teeth and gums health,” she said. “Your dentist can be an ally to help monitor the signs of gum disease.”

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage

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