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Researchers in Japan have found a strong link between tooth loss and increased risk of esophageal, head and neck, and lung cancers.
The study, published in the May issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, suggests that the bacterial infection and inflammation that results from poor oral care and leads to tooth loss could also contribute towards the development of these cancers.
Specifically, the research team found that people with tooth loss were 136 percent more likely to develop esophageal cancer, had a 68 percent greater chance of contracting head and neck cancer and had a 54 per cent increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Dr Akio Hiraki, the study's lead author, said: "Tooth loss is a common consequence of chronic bacterial infection and may, therefore, serve as a surrogate for chronic infection and inflammation, which in turn may be important to the pathogenesis of cancer."
The researchers also found that age and gender has an impact on the associations between tooth loss and cancer - for head and neck and esophageal cancers, for example, there were clear links with tooth loss in women and patients under 70 which was less apparent in men and older patients.
Previous research has suggested that smokers are significantly more likely to develop oral cancer.
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