Unhealthy gums increase chances of cancer in older women

unhealthy gumsUnhealthy gums could be putting older women at a higher risk of developing cancer, a new study has found.

The study, which looked at 65,000 post-menopausal women, found that a history of unhealthy gums increases the chances of developing cancer by 14%.

The Oral Health Foundation is encouraging women to pay attention to their oral health to reduce their chances of developing cancer.

‘We are encouraging post-menopausal women to be alert to the early signs of gum disease; which include red inflamed gums, bleeding when brushing your teeth and persistent bad breath, and ensure that you visit your dentist as soon as possible to get checked out and avoid any further problems,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘While gum disease can be treated very effectively, the best approach is certainly prevention and making sure we do not fall foul of it at all.

‘We welcome more research on this topic, as a greater understanding could be a game-changer in helping women avoid many types of cancer.’


Of those who developed cancer, breast cancer was the most prevalent, there was also an increased chance of developing lung cancer, oesophageal, gall bladder and skin cancers.

The findings, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, were irrespective of smoking habits and showed that gum disease could leave other parts of the body vulnerable


‘Falling oestrogen levels throughout menopause can cause numerous health issues, such as loss of bone density, leading to osteoporosis,’ Karen Coates, Oral Health Educator and Advisor for the Oral Health Foundation, said.

‘At the same time, changes in oral health also are common as teeth and gums become more susceptible to disease, resulting in heightened risk of inflammation, bleeding, pain, and ultimately, loose or missing teeth.

‘Maintaining good oral hygiene throughout our lives is the best way to prevent the development of many oral health problems.’

Become a Dentistry Online member

Become a member
Add to calendar