Healthy Living

Do Unhealthy Gums Signal Liver Cancer?

When you think of unhealthy gums, you usually think of poor dental and oral hygiene as a primary reason. You either brush not that often or even not at all, resulting in receding gums, gums that bleed when you floss or brush or gums that are both red and swollen.

And while those are perfectly valid reasons, a new study reveals that unhealthy gums may be the sign of an even bigger problem: liver cancer, which is slowly becoming a worldwide public health issue, alongside other gastrointestinal system cancers.

Study connects unhealthy gums to liver cancer

The study was made on people in the United Kingdom, and it revealed that those who have poor oral health had a 75 percent higher risk of developing liver cancer. Of course, previous studies have already shown that unhealthy gums and teeth are already connected to a lot of long-term health conditions. These include stroke, some types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

“However, there is inconsistent evidence on the association between poor oral health and specific types of gastrointestinal cancers, which is what our research aimed to examine,” said Haydée W. T. Jordão, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen's University Belfast in the U.K. and a lead author of the recent United European Gastroenterology Journal paper on the study.

For the study, the researchers included the cancers in the digestive system that the World Health Organization listed in the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) Version 2016  C15–C26  classification codes.

They also used data from the U.K. Biobank project, which included information from 490,000 adults from England, Scotland and Wales. When these participants signed up for the study during 2006-2010, they were aged 40-69 years old.

From the analysis, they found that there is no link between oral health and an overall risk to gastrointestinal cancer. However, there are links between poor oral health and hepatobiliary cancers, the strongest of which are hepatocellular carcinoma. This is the most common cancer type for adults that starts in the liver.

“Further studies investigating the microbiome and liver cancer are therefore warranted,” Jordão said.

oral health gums Poor oral health care and gum disease have been linked to cognitive decline among Alzheimer's patients, but it may simply be a correlation. Pixabay, public domain