Periodontitis in Older Adults Tied to Higher Total Cancer Risk

Strongest associations found for lung and colorectal cancer
Strongest associations found for lung and colorectal cancer

HealthDay News — Individuals with periodontitis have an increased total cancer risk, according to a study published online January 12 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Dominique S. Michaud, ScD, from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlation between periodontal disease severity with cancer risk in black and white older adults. The study included 7,466 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study cohort who reported being edentulous or underwent a dental examination at visit four during 1996 to 1998. 

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During a median follow-up of 14.7 years, the researchers identified 1,648 incident cancers and 547 cancer deaths. After adjusting for smoking and other factors, the risk of total cancer was significantly increased (hazard ratio, 1.24) for severe periodontitis (>30% of sites with attachment loss >3mm) versus no or mild periodontitis (<10 percent of sites with attachment loss >3mm). A strong correlation was seen for lung cancer (hazard ratio, 2.33). Severe periodontitis also correlated with an elevated risk for colorectal cancer, which was significant for those who were never smokers (hazard ratio, 2.12). Among black participants, associations were generally weaker or not apparent, except for lung and colorectal cancers, which had similar associations by race.

"This study provides additional evidence that cancer risk, especially for lung and colorectal cancer, is elevated in individuals with periodontitis," the authors write. "Additional research is needed to understand cancer site-specific and racial differences in findings."

Abstract/Full Text