June 21, 2019
1 min read

Poor oral health raises risk for liver cancer

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Poor oral health correlated with an increased risk for hepatobiliary cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma, according to an analysis of data from the UK Biobank cohort.

“Poor oral health is an established risk factor for several chronic systemic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers,” Haydée W.T. Jordão, from Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland, and colleagues wrote. “Periodontitis, gingivitis, dental caries and tooth loss can all be considered as oral diseases or clinical indicators of poor oral health.”

To investigate the association between self-reported poor oral health and the risk for different types of gastrointestinal cancer, the researchers analyzed the data of 469,628 participants of the UK Biobank. During an average follow-up of 6 years, 4,069 participants developed incident gastrointestinal cancers, of whom 13% reported poor oral health.

While there was no significant correlation between self-reported poor oral health and the risk for individual types of gastrointestinal cancers, poor oral health was linked to an increased risk for hepatobiliary cancer (HR = 1.32; 95% CI, 0.95-1.8), especially hepatocellular carcinoma (HR = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.04-2.31).

The correlation between poor oral health and hepatobiliary cancer was higher in participants who consumed less than five pieces of fruits and vegetables daily (HR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.03-2.22), smokers (HR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.02-2.23), those who had overweight or obesity (HR = 1.53; 95% CI, 1.08-2.16), and those living in more affluent socioeconomic areas (HR = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.03-2.31).

“The biological mechanisms by which poor oral health may be more strongly associated with liver, rather than other digestive, cancer risk is unclear,” Jordão and colleagues concluded. “Since this was a cross-sectional study, it is difficult to imply causal associations, but it is evidence for a liver-specific effect of periodontitis, mediated by serum reactive oxygen species.” – by Talitha Bennett

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.