According to a recent study, men with a history of periodontal disease could be at increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
In this study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of San Juan, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute aimed to determine if periodontal disease or tooth loss may be related to pancreatic cancer. As noted by the research team, previous studies suggested a potential association between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer, but those studies could not discount the role of confounding factors such as smoking history.
To analyze the periodontal-systemic association further, the authors reviewed 16 years of health data on more than 51,000 male health professionals, all between the ages of 40 and 75 years at the study’s inception in 1986. The data were compiled as part of the Health Professional Follow-Up Study, an ongoing evaluation of health factors that may be related to cancer and other diseases.
Over a 16-year follow-up period (between 1986 and 2002), 216 men developed pancreatic cancer. After adjusting for age, smoking history, diabetes, obesity, and diet, the researchers found that men with a history of periodontal disease had a 63% greater chance of developing pancreatic cancer than men without a history of periodontal disease. While the prospective cohort study provides a long-term statistical association between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer, it does not establish a definitive cause-effect relationship between the two conditions.
While the authors claimed that periodontal disease or tooth loss may increase pancreatic cancer risk through “plausible biological mechanisms,” further research is required to validate this association.
[www.ada.org, December 2006]