It has been established that having gum disease in Spring, TX can lead to an increased chance in developing certain health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers. However, a recent study of people in the United Kingdom found a link between poor oral health and liver cancer. Let’s examine this connection more closely.
The Study Examined Cancers of the Digestive System
Cancers of the digestive, or gastrointestinal, system include cancers of the:
- Small intestine
- Bile ducts
The study compiled data from 469,628 adults from England, Scotland, and Wales. All of these people were between the ages of 40 and 69, and did not have a history of cancer prior to the study. On an average follow-up of 6 years, 4,069 of these people developed gastrointestinal cancer. Of those who contracted cancer, 13 percent of them had reported having poor oral health at the beginning of the study.
Those who reported poor oral health were more likely to be obese, female, smokers, and not eat at least two servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Researchers defined poor oral health as having “painful gums, bleeding gums, and/or having loose teeth.” These are also the primary symptoms of gum disease.
Link Between Oral Health and Risk of Liver Cancer
The study found no significant connection between oral health and gastrointestinal cancer as a whole. However, they did find a link between poor oral health and hepatobiliary cancers, or cancers of the gallbladder, liver, and bile ducts.
The strongest link was with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of cancer that begins in the liver. The study has shown that having poor oral health can cause a 75 percent higher risk of contracting hepatocellular carcinoma.
The Reason for the Connection is Unclear
The researchers from the study are not sure why poor oral health is so strongly linked to liver cancer but not overall gastrointestinal cancer. Because the liver contributes to removing bacteria from the body, one theory suggests that when cancer impairs this function, bacteria live longer and can wreak more havoc on the teeth and gums.
How Can I Take Good Care of My Oral Health?
Whether you want to prevent liver cancer or not, it’s never a bad idea to practice good oral hygiene by following these steps:
- Visit your dentist in Spring at least every 6 months.
- Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Avoid tobacco products.
- Limit consumption of alcohol and sugary foods and beverages.
By taking care of your oral health, you are by extension taking care of your overall health. If you have any more questions about your oral health, be sure to contact your dentist.
About the Author
Dr. Clifton Baldwin has more than three decades of experience in practicing general dentistry. He achieved his doctorate from the UT Dental School Houston Branch in 1984. He is a specialist in treating soft tissues in the mouth, including gums. He can diagnose certain diseases, such as diabetes and acid reflux, based on that state of your oral health. To hear more about what he has to say on the link between oral and overall health, click here or call (281)-893-4746.