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Gum disease has been linked to breast cancer

Gum disease has been linked to breast cancer

As the saying goes: flossing teeth every day keeps breast cancer away. No? Well, it should.

New research has shown that women with gum disease are 14 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer.  

Scientists suggest this is because gum bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread to the breast tissue.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo are behind the new findings, a result of monitoring 73,737 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.

None of the participants had suffered with breast cancer, but 26.1 per cent had experienced gum disease.

Smoking status was also taken into account, as previous work has found the effects of gum disease can depend on smoking.

The women were looked at again after 6.7 years, with 2,124 now diagnosed with breast cancer.

From here the researchers found that the risk of the cancer was 14 per cent higher in the women with gum disease.

Taking smoking into consideration, the women who had quit smoking in the last 20 years and had gum disease had a 36 per cent higher risk of breast cancer.

The smokers with gum disease at the time of the study had a 32 per cent risk, though scientists did point out that the association “was not statically significant”.

The non-smokers and those who had quit more than 20 years ago, with the gum ailment, were six and eight per cent more at risk respectively.

“We know that the bacteria in the mouths of current and former smokers who quit recently are different from those in the mouths of non-smokers,” lead study author Dr Jo Freudenheim said.

Dr Freudenheim adds that further research is needed to establish a causal link.

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