Breast cancer has many well known risk factors such as family history, genetics, diet, exercise level, smoking, treatment from other cancers including radiation therapy to the chest, age and just being a woman puts you at greater risk. But gum disease? A recent study shows that the chronic inflammation and bacteria caused by gum disease may put you at a greater risk for breast cancer. A large percentage of the women in this study diagnosed with breast cancer who had gum disease were also smokers or former smokers.
Gum disease or periodontitis is caused by plaque and tartar build up on your teeth. Your teeth are more difficult to clean after tartar forms under your gum line allowing bacteria to grow. Symptoms of gum disease include red, inflamed gums, gums that bleed easily, a bad taste in your mouth, bad breath, loose teeth and spaces between your teeth and gums. Risk factors for gum disease include tobacco use, poor dental care, gingivitis, age and poor nutrition. Gum disease is connected with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other types of cancer including head and neck cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. Gum disease can be prevented by good oral hygiene including brushing and flossing your teeth as well as yearly dental check ups.
Preventing gum disease will not keep you from getting breast cancer, but knowledge of risk factors and ways to prevent or control them is empowering. Eating well, exercising, quitting smoking, monthly self-breast examinations as well as yearly breast exams by your physician and mammograms all allow you to take the initiative in breast cancer prevention. And now we can add good oral hygiene to that list.
If it is time for your yearly mammogram, call today to set up your appointment. Don’t delay! The doctors at The Woman’s Clinic want you to live your most healthy life!