Researchers say older women with gum disease have a 14 percent higher risk of developing various types of cancer, regardless of whether they are smokers or not.
Recent studies have shown that postmenopausal women suffering from periodontal disease are vulnerable to all types of cancer, including esophagus, lungs, gall bladder, melanoma and breast cancer. Bleeding from the gums when brushing or shaking the teeth is a signal of periodontal disease.
Gum disease is also associated with heart disease, but the exact relationship between the two is unknown.
"These findings provide new guidance for cancer prevention, such as oral hygiene and periodontal disease treatment," said Jin Wendy, a professor of health at the State University of New York.
Women with gum disease and smoking have a high risk of developing breast cancer, lung cancer and gallbladder cancer, and women who do not smoke but have gum disease are at risk of developing melanoma.
In the case of periodontal disease, oral bacteria that cause local inflammation or systemic inflammation are likely to enter the blood stream through the oral tissues or be transmitted through ingestion or inhalation.
The association between bad oral hygiene and cancer is also expected to be revealed through further studies.