19 June 2012
Persistent dental plaque may increase the risk of premature death from cancer, an observational study has found.
Swedish researchers tracked the health of 1400 adults in their 30s and 40s from 1985 to 2009. They were asked about factors likely to increase their cancer risk. Their oral hygiene was also assessed.
By 2009, 58 people had died, and 35 of the deaths were caused by cancer. Deaths among women were predominantly caused by breast cancer. Male deaths were attributed to a range of different cancers.
The researchers found the dental plaque index of those who died was higher than those who survived. It was associated with a 79 per cent increased risk of premature death, although the absolute risk was low.
“Based on the present findings, the high bacterial load on tooth surfaces and in gingival pockets over a prolonged time may indeed play a role in carcinogenesis,” the authors said.
Last Reviewed: 19 June 2012