A review of the relationship between tooth loss, periodontal disease, and cancer


Recent studies have investigated the association between periodontal disease, tooth loss, and several systemic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and preterm birth. Periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory condition, is highly prevalent in adult populations around the world, and may be preventable. Estimates of prevalence vary between races and geographic regions, with a marked increase in the occurrence of periodontal disease with advancing age. Worldwide estimates for the prevalence of severe periodontal disease generally range from 10 to 15%. The relationship between oral health and cancer has been examined for a number of specific cancer sites. Several studies have reported associations between periodontal disease or tooth loss and risk of oral, upper gastrointestinal, lung, and pancreatic cancer in different populations. In a number of studies, these associations persisted after adjustment for major risk factors, including cigarette smoking and socioeconomic status. This review provides a summary of these findings, discusses possible biological mechanisms involved, and raises methodological issues related to studying these relationships.

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Financial Support: This work was supported by grant T32 CA 09001 from the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Mara S. Meyer.

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Meyer, M.S., Joshipura, K., Giovannucci, E. et al. A review of the relationship between tooth loss, periodontal disease, and cancer. Cancer Causes Control 19, 895–907 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10552-008-9163-4

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  • Periodontal diseases
  • Tooth loss
  • Cancer