Oral Cancer Connection

The relationship between periodontal disease and certain types of cancer has been suspect for quite some time. However, with a major collaborative study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Kimmel Cancer Center along with Tufts University School of Medicine and Cancer Center, a more definitive relationship between severe periodontal disease and cancer seems to be emerging. This long-term study between these two prestigious centers which ranged from the 1990s until 2012, showed an increase in certain types of cancer by as much as 24%. The most prominent relationship between severe periodontal disease and cancer was found in patients having lung cancer followed by colorectal cancer. Even if studies were adjusted for non-smokers, the risk of increased cancer was still apparent.

Other studies at other research centers suggest a strong relationship between periodontal disease and oral cancer, pancreatic cancer and esophageal cancer. These most recent studies suggests that severe periodontal disease should be treated as soon as possible to decrease mortality statistics among the various types of cancer groups noted above. It is not known at this time the exact bio–immunological mechanism by which periodontal disease and these various cancers form.

With the exception of pancreatic cancer, the other four cancer types have a direct path to these organ systems via breathing and swallowing of periodontal pathogens found around teeth with periodontal disease. We also know that in cases of severe periodontal disease, bacteria and associated periodontal pathogens can enter into the bloodstream and circulate to these organ systems. They may have then an adverse affect on the inflammatory burden of these organ systems.