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Gum Disease May Increase Head and Neck Cancer Risk

Last Updated: September 08, 2009.

The threat seems the same for smokers, nonsmokers, study finds

TUESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Taking good care of your teeth may help cut your risk of developing head or neck cancer, suggests a new study that links a gum disease to such tumors.

Having chronic periodontitis, a gum disease involving the progressive loss of the bone and soft tissue attached to the teeth, appeared to increase one's odds of developing head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, especially in the mouth and throat.

The findings was published online Sept. 8 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

"Prevent periodontitis; if you have it already, get treatment and maintain good oral hygiene," research leader Dr. Mine Tezal, from the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher.

The cancer risk appeared to be roughly as high for chronic periodontitis patients, regardless of whether they smoked or used any tobacco products, but further study may be needed to confirm this, Tezal said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has more about gum disease.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Sept. 8, 2009

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