Poor oral health link to liver cancer risk

15 August, 2019 / infocus

A STUDY from Queen’s University Belfast has found that people with poor oral health are more likely to develop liver cancer. The investigation involved more than  450,000 people across the UK and discovered that failing to look after your teeth and gums can make you up to 75 per cent more likely to develop cancer of the liver.

“Poor oral health has been associated with the risk of several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes”, explained Dr Haydée WT Jordão, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s and lead author of the study “However, there is inconsistent evidence on the association between poor oral health and specific types of gastrointestinal cancers, which is what our research aimed to examine.”

Models were applied to estimate the relationship between cancer risk and self-reported oral health conditions, such as painful or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and loose teeth. While no significant associations were observed on the risk of the majority gastrointestinal cancers and poor oral health, a substantial link was found for hepatobiliary cancer.  

Of the 469,628 participants, 4,069 developed gastrointestinal cancer during the (average) six-year follow-up. In 13 per cent of these cases, patients reported poor oral health. Participants with poor oral health were more likely to be younger, female, living in deprived socioeconomic areas and eating fewer  than two portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

The biological mechanisms by which poor oral health may be more strongly associated with liver cancer, rather than other digestive cancers, is currently uncertain.  One explanation is the potential role of the oral and gut microbiome in disease development, which said Dr  Jordão, warranted further studies. 

Tags: news / Oral health / Study

Categories: Magazine / News

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