People with poor oral health are more likely to develop liver cancer, according to a study from Queen’s University Belfast.
The investigation, which involved over 450,000 people across the UK, discovered that people who fail to look after their teeth and gums are up to 75% more likely to develop cancer of the liver.
The potentially life-threatening disease is the latest in a long line of health conditions to be linked with poor oral hygiene. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes have also been linked with common oral health problems.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said the study puts into stark reality the potential knock-on impact of letting your oral health fall by the wayside.
“Taking a relatively small amount of time each day to keep a clean and healthy mouth can make you far less likely to encounter some serious conditions in the future,” he stated.
The measures of poor oral health used in the study included painful or bleeding gums and loose teeth – both associated with gum disease.
Liver cancer is the sixth biggest cancer killer in Europe, claiming the lives of almost 60,000 people each year.
Dr Haydée WT Jordão, lead author of the study from Queen’s University Belfast, explained that when the liver is affected by diseases, such as hepatitis 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,” he said.