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STUDY: Take care of your teeth
JOURNAL: Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:176-181.
AUTHORS: Dr. Rachel Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon
ABSTRACT: In smokers, tooth loss is directly related to the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to the results of a study of male smokers.
COMMENTARY: The risk of developing pancreatic cancer was 63% higher in smokers who had lost all their teeth, compared with those who had lost fewer than 10 teeth.
Tooth loss may not cause pancreatic cancer; it could simply be a marker for some other factor that leads to the malignancy.
That smokers who have lost all their teeth may have higher oral levels of bacteria, which, in turn, leads to higher gastrointestinal levels.
The investigators examined the medical records of 29,104 male smokers, between 50 and 69 years of age at baseline. The men, who were followed from 1985 to 1997, were asked about their dental health at the beginning of the study.
By the end of the study, 174 men had developed pancreatic cancer, the researchers report.
After adjusting for age, education, and rural versus urban residence, the researchers found that men were 63% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer if they had lost all their teeth (p = 0.02). Tooth loss was not significantly tied to Helicobacter pylori seropositivity.
The findings underscore the importance of good dental hygiene, Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon said. Previous reports have shown regular use of dental floss and toothpaste is associated with a reduced risk of oral and esophageal cancers, she added.