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Archive - Aug 1, 2017

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History of Gum Disease Increases Cancer Risk in Older Women; New Study Is First to Report Association Between Periodontal Disease and Gallbladder Cancer Risk In Women or Men

Postmenopausal women who have a history of gum disease also have a higher risk of cancer, according to a new study of more than 65,000 women. The study, led by researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB) in New York, is the first national study of its kind involving U.S. women, and the first to focus specifically on older women. It's also the first study to find an association between periodontal disease and gallbladder cancer risk in women or men. The findings were published on August 1, 2017 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. "This study is the first national study focused on women, particularly older women," said Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende, the study's senior author. "Our study was sufficiently large and detailed enough to examine not just overall risk of cancer among older women with periodontal disease, but also to provide useful information on a number of cancer-specific sites," added Dr. Wactawski-Wende, Dean of UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions and a Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. The study included 65,869 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, an ongoing national prospective study designed to investigate factors affecting disease and death risk in older American women. The average age of the participants was 68, and most were non-Hispanic white women. As part of a follow-up health questionnaire, participants were asked "Has a dentist or dental hygienist ever told you that you had periodontal or gum disease?" Women who reported a history of gum disease had a 14 percent increased risk of overall cancer. Of the 7,149 cancers that occurred in the study participants, the majority -- or 2,416 -- were breast cancer.