New research claims that women who suffer from gum disease are up to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. The study, published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, involved more than 200 women, separated into two groups – those who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and those that had no history or signs of the disease.

Findings showed those who suffered from periodontitis (severe gum disease), were two to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. Researchers believe the link could support the theory that breast cancer could be triggered as the result of a systemic inflammation which originates in the infected gums. They also suggest that bacteria from the mouth may enter the circulatory system through the gums which then may affect breast tissue.

Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation believes the study provides additional evidence that cancer could be associated with chronic inflammation and infections.

Dr Carter says: “This research shows that there is evidence to support the theory that gum disease can have a much larger impact on the health of our whole body”.

Of the possible link between cancer and gum disease, he says: “If we can study periodontal disease and breast cancer in other populations, and if we can do a more detailed study of the characteristics of periodontal disease, it would help us understand more about the relationship”.

The Oral Health Foundation is keen to highlight the potential relationships between poor oral health and systemic diseases to help reduce risk.