Taking care of your teeth and gums may help ward off one of the deadliest cancers.
When Harvard researchers analyzed 16 years of health information on more than 50,000 men, gum disease stood out as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. "We found those with history of periodontal disease had 60% increase in risk of getting pancreatic cancer," explains Dr. Charles Fuchs of the Dana Farber Institute for Cancer Research.
Researchers factored out smoking, obesity diabetes, and other potential risks.
Scientists speculate that the chronic inflammation caused by gum disease may play a role.
More studies are planned to confirm the link, and to see if there's an oral health connection to other cancers. "There's a lot of good reason to take good care of your teeth and here's another one," explains Dr. Fuchs.
Men who had gum disease and tooth loss are at the highest risk for pancreatic cancer.
More than 30,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease this year.