Study finds association between periodontal disease and prostate cancer

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Study finds association between periodontal disease and prostate cancer

Periodontal disease (PD), also known as gum disease, is a condition involving inflammation of the gingiva or gums surrounding the teeth and is caused by plaque developing along the gumline.  It is considered a chronic, inflammatory disease that can damage both soft and hard tissues within the mouth and is the primary risk factor for tooth loss in adults.  Past studies have found PD to be associated with erectile dysfunction.   Now, a new longitudinal cohort study conducted in South Korea, has found an association between PD and prostate cancer (PC).

“This large study brings forth new information that previously has not been studied to a great extent,” said Dr. David Samadi.  “Given the fact that there is a correlation between periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction, it only makes sense that this same disease would have an impact on the development of prostate cancer.”

Like many parts of the world, South Korea has an aging population.  For men, the incidence of PC increases as they age.  Periodontal disease also tends to increase in adults as they age.  The aim of this study to determine the association between PD and PC using data in the National Health Insurance Service-Health Examinee Cohort (NHIS-HEC) to see if there was any association between the two conditions. 

From 2002 to 2013, a random stratified sample of 187,934 South Korean men was collected from the NHIS database.  The researchers looked at the relationship between PD and PC in which they adjusted for potential confounding factors such as sex, age, household income, insurance status, residence area, hypertension, diabetes, cerebral infarction, angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, smoking status, alcohol intake, and regular exercise. 

“What this study found was that men aged 40 and older who had periodontal disease, had a 14% greater risk of developing prostate cancer,” exclaimed Dr. Samadi.  “Periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory condition, is when bacterial plaque builds up on teeth that can lead to inflamed, bleeding gums and tooth loss.  It is also believed these same oral bacteria can find their way into the bloodstream becoming a risk factor for the development of other major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and erectile dysfunction.  Having chronic inflammation such as periodontal disease can also be a main factor underlying the development of cancer like prostate cancer.”

Dr. Samadi went on to say, “When a person has periodontal disease, the oral bacteria can invade the epithelium and mucosa tissues causing injury and irritation to these tissues which can result in subsequent cancer progression.  This study makes sense in that men with periodontal disease should be aware of the possible increased risk of developing prostate cancer.  This goes to show that physicians such as myself, need to have a complete picture of a man’s health, including oral health, when we do routine physicals or checkups.  Even though periodontal disease can not necessarily be reversed, we need to remind men to keep the disease under control by seeing a periodontist to help possibly reduce their risk of prostate cancer.”

Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact world renowned prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist, Dr. David Samadi, for a free phone consultation and to learn more about prostate cancer risk, call 212-365-5000.