Poor oral health may increase liver cancer risk

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Aug 28 : Poor oral health is associated with a 75 per cent increased
risk of the most common form of liver cancer, new research has found.

The study, by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, analysed
a large cohort of over 469,000 people in the UK, investigated the
association between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of
gastrointestinal cancers, including liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic
cancer.


Models were applied to estimate the relationship between
cancer risk and self-reported oral health conditions, such as painful or
bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, and loose teeth.


Whilst no
significant associations were observed on the risk of the majority
gastrointestinal cancers and poor oral health, a substantial link was
found for hepatobiliary cancer.


“Poor oral health has been
associated with the risk of several chronic diseases, such as heart
disease, stroke, and diabetes,” explained Dr Haydee WT Jordao, from the
Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and lead author of
the study.


“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,”
continued Dr Haydee.


Of the 469,628 participants, 4,069 developed
gastrointestinal cancer during the (average) six-year follow up. In
13per cent of these cases, patients reported poor oral health.


Participants
with poor oral health were more likely to be younger, female, living in
deprived socioeconomic areas and consumed less than two portions of
fruit and vegetables per day.


The biological mechanisms by which
poor oral health may be more strongly associated with liver cancer,
rather than other digestive cancers, is currently uncertain.


One explanation is the potential role of the oral and gut microbiome in disease development.


“The
liver contributes to the elimination of bacteria from the human body.
When the liver is affected by diseases, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or
cancer, its function will decline and bacteria will survive for longer
and therefore have the potential to cause more harm. One bacteria,
Fusobacterium nucleatum, originates in the oral cavity but its role in
liver cancer is unclear. Further studies investigating the microbiome
and liver cancer are therefore warranted,” stated Dr Haydee WT Jordao.


Another
theory in explaining the higher cancer risk due to poor oral health
suggested that participants with a high number of missing teeth may
alter their diet, consuming softer and potentially less nutritious
foods, which in turn influence the risk of liver cancer.

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