The Oral-Systemic Connection
Continuing with our series about the oral/systemic link, this week I would like to discuss how research is now pointing to a link between oral health and cancer.
A recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, September 2009 compared rates of periodontal disease in 226 people with head and neck cancer and a comparison group of 207 people without cancer. In fact, each millimeter of bone loss due to chronic periodontitis was associated with a more than four times higher risk of head and neck cancer, and this was after taking into account other known risk factors such as smoking.
Researchers say the results may help explain why head and neck cancer rates continue to climb although smoking rates have been declining for the last 40 years.
This study further adds to the growing body of research that shows chronic inflammation can affect the risk of many systemic diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Further research is needed to actually understand what is causing the inflammation in the first place and how that mechanism translates into disease. There is some speculation that diet may play a bigger role in this than previously thought and that carbohydrates, especially our high-glycemic rice, breads and pastas may be the worst of all.
In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute a correlation between periodontal disease and the most deadly form of cancer there is; pancreatic cancer has been established. Recently a number of papers have been published showing that sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages and high-glycemic –load diets are associated with an increased risk for this deadly cancer.
So….. why should periodontal disease predispose to pancreatic cancer? Once again we come full-circle to diet and inflammation and the need for more information to fully understand this complex relationship.
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Until next time,