chronic periodontitisIf you smoke, you’re pretty much guaranteed gum disease. And, of course, your risk of a whole host of chronic, systemic illnesses soars.

But just because you’re a nonsmoker, your gums don’t necessarily get a free pass. Despite smoking rates dropping for decades now, periodontal disease remains a problem for as much as 75% of the adult population.

We have poor diet, chronic stress, insufficient sleep, and other new norms of modern lifestyles to thank for that.

And it’s far more than just a dental problem. For decades now, science has sussed out its relationship with many other health problems marked by inflammation – for instance, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer.

Earlier this year, a study in Annals of Oncology offered some numbers that put the perio-cancer relationship into perspective. Data from nearly 20,000 men who had never smoked was gathered across 26 years total. Analysis showed “a 2.5-fold increase in smoking-related cancers among never smokers.” Though gum disease wasn’t linked with the three most common cancers among participants,

a 33% increase in risk was observed for smoking-related cancers (lung, bladder, oropharnygeal, esophageal, kidney, stomach and liver cancers…).

And for those with advanced periodontitis? There was a 45% increase in the risk of developing any kind of cancer.

Need another reason to work harder on keeping gum disease in check?

Image by Parveen Chopra, via Flickr


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