May 2, 2009
Treating Gum Disease May Be a Lifesaver
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Pancreatic cancer. If you have had a friend or family member experience this disease you know how deadly it is. It’s the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and kills over 30,000 people a year. Because it’s often advanced by the time it’s discovered, many patients only survive a few months after diagnosis.
One major risk factor that’s known about pancreatic cancer is smoking, but researchers are finding links to other risk factors including obesity, type2 diabetes, insulin resistance and yes – gum disease.
The strongest research linking gum disease with pancreatic cancer came as part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, started in 1986. The study group is made up of 51,529 men working in the health professions in the United States. Over a six year period, starting in 1996, 216 study participants were confirmed with pancreatic cancer, 67 of whom had gum disease.
The conclusion? After making adjustments for age, smoking, diabetes, body mass index and other factors, researchers concluded that men with gum disease had a 63 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who did not have gum disease. Even among subjects who never smoked, gum disease was associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Researchers speculate that inflammation from gum disease may be one of the reasons for this link to pancreatic cancer. They also suggested that the higher levels of oral bacteria and nitrosamines found in the mouths of people who have gum disease may also play a role in pancreatic cancer development. Certainly more research is necessary. But researchers are hopeful that findings from this study may provide new insights into pancreatic cancer risks and the development of the disease.
This is just another compelling reason to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your mouth and gums healthy. Routine dental care and good home care are key to the battle against developing gum disease. And if you have diabetes, treating your gum disease can make it easier to manage. It’s important to find a dentist who understands the links between gum disease and diabetes and knows how to help you reduce your blood sugar. Not all dentists know how to lower blood sugar. Finding a dentist who does is easy – just follow this link to locate a DentistryForDiabeticsSM dentist in your region.
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