cartoon of a tooth holding a tooth brush with the text is gum disease tied to esophageal cancer

Gum disease has been tied to deadly illnesses in the past. The biggest one being heart disease. Researchers have been trying to see if gum disease is linked to other disorders. A recent study published in Cancer Research may have found a connection between gum disease and esophageal cancer.

This study tracked the oral health of 122,000 U.S. citizens for 10 years. During this time, researchers found that the presence of to two types of bacteria common with gum disease may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. In particular, the bacteria tannerella forsythia was tied to a 21% increased chance of developing the cancer.

This study shows that there is a correlation but not a causation between the bacteria and the cancer. More research is needed to determine how the relationship works. Regardless, good oral hygiene is essential to overall health. It is not an area of self-care to be neglected.

Source: Peters, Brandilyn A., et al. “Oral Microbiome Composition Reflects Prospective Risk for Esophageal Cancers.” Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 Dec. 2017, cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/77/23/6777.

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