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Higher levels of dental plaque may increase cancer risk: study

Researchers say that infection and inflammation play a role in cancers,and is a key element in gum disease caused by plaque.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: June 12, 2012 5:24:18 pm

Failing to brush teeth properly can increase the risk of cancer as higher levels of dental plaque is linked to chronic health problems,researchers have claimed.

Researchers said that infection and inflammation play a role in up to one in five cancers,and is a key element in gum disease caused by dental plaque.

Those with the most bacteria on the surface of their teeth and gums had an 80 per cent increased risk of premature death.

However,the Swedish researchers behind the latest study have admitted their findings do not prove a causal link between cancer and dental plaque. Poor mouth hygiene may be an indicator of other lifestyle factors associated with cancer.

Gum disease causes bad breath,bleeding gums and,if untreated,cavities,receding gums and tooth loss after plaque settles between teeth and under the gumline,the Daily Mail reported.

It has been linked to chronic health problems including heart disease,thought to be caused by inflammation passing from the gums into the bloodstream,although US researchers have recently suggested the link may be coincidental.

The study tracked the health of 1,390 randomly selected adults from Stockholm for 24 years,starting in 1985.

All the participants were in their 30s and 40s at the start of the monitoring period,when they were questioned about factors likely to increase their cancer risk,such as smoking and wealth.

Their mouth hygiene was also assessed to find out their levels of dental plaque,tartar,gum disease,and tooth loss.

None had overt gum disease,but all had varying levels of plaque on the tooth and gum surface.

By 2009,58 had died,around a third of whom were women (35 per cent). Of these deaths,35 were caused by cancer.

The average age of death was 61 for the women and 60 for the men according to the study,published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The original dental plaque index in those who had died was higher than in those who had survived.

The women would have been expected to live around 13 years longer,and the men an additional 8.5 years,so their deaths could be considered premature,said study leader Professor Birgitta Soder,of the department of dental medicine at the Karolinska Institute,Huddinge.

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