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Poor dental health can lead to pancreatic cancer

by on May 3, 2012

Although it is often preached by dental health providers, the fact that neglectful dental habit can lead to more serious health issues is often dismissed. However, according to a report conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health, “males with a history of gum disease had a 63-percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer relative to men without periodontal disease,” (“Diseased Gums Raise Risk of Pancreatic Cancer”, MSNBC).

Most types of cancer are often associated with smoking, however the same report noted that smoking did not seem to be a huge factor in those men who developed pancreatic cancer. That being said, two other reports also found a positive association between gum disease and the occurrence of pancreatic cancer, but noted that “’residual confounding’ by smoking and other known risk factors may have accounted for the findings,” (MSNBC).

Dental health experts suggest a likely reason that the link between gum disease and pancreatic cancer exists is because of the large amount of bacteria present in the mouth and gut of those who have periodontitis. These bacteria are filled with cancer-causing nitrosamines

Gum disease is often exhibited by red gums that bleed easily. Proper dental care, including thorough brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups can reverse the early stages of gum disease. If you think you may be at risk, schedule an appointment with your dental care provider.

If you do have a history of gum disease, it’s important to visit your family doctor to ensure you remain healthy. Early detection is important for victims of pancreatic cancer as it is often not diagnosed until it has spread beyond the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in the United States as only five percent of patients survive five years after initial diagnosis.

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