WOMEN who suffer from gum disease are up to three times more likely to develop breast cancer, new research suggests.
A study of more than 200 women, published in the journal Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, found those who suffered from periodontitis had two to three times higher odds of developing the disease.
Researchers believe the findings may support the theory that breast cancer could be triggered by a systemic inflammation which originates in infected gums. They also suggest that bacteria from the mouth may enter the circulatory system through the gums which then may affect breast tissue.
Dr Nigel Carter of the Oral Health Foundation said: “This research shows that there is evidence to support the theory that gum disease can have a much larger impact on the health of our whole body.”
But he cautioned that this may simply be an association, adding: "It's important to recognise that gum disease has not been proven to cause breast cancer, or any other form of the disease. More research is required in order to identify the specific relationship, something we very much welcome."
Research has previously suggested links between gum disease and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even dementia.
It is estimated gum disease affects half of all UK adults, with up to 15 per cent suffering severe periodontitis. If not treated properly it can lead to weakening of the tissues supporting the teeth and the teeth eventually falling out or having to be removed.
Dr Carter said an effective oral health routine was the best way to cut the risk of gum disease.