Controlling Gum Disease for Possible Cancer Prevention | Alhambra Dentist

A recent study lead by New York University of Dentistry and the New York University School of Medicine concluded that a lack of bacterial diversity in the mouth was identified in people with precancerous lesions that could precede stomach cancer. This is based on the fact that there is a healthy mix of a vast variety of bacteria living in beneficial coexistence in the oral cavity. When there is disease, certain bacterial groups take over the oral environment and, in the process, eliminate certain beneficial bacteria. This results in what’s called lack of “bacterial diversity”. Where this shrinkage of bacterial variety occurs, the findings of this study concludes that there are higher incidences of precancerous lesions that lead to stomach cancer. It is also theorized that restoration of the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth would lessen the risk of stomach cancer. These finding were published in the November 2017 issue of Journal of Periodontology.

The American Cancer Society estimated that 26,370 new cases of stomach or gastric cancer would be diagnosed in 2016, resulting in 10,703 deaths. Accumulating evidence suggests that chronic inflammation caused by oral bacterial infections may contribute to the development and progression of various types of cancer, including stomach cancer.

Although some risk factors – such as H. pylori colonization, cigarette smoking, and eating salt and preserved foods – have previously been confirmed to contribute to the development of stomach cancer, many new cases unrelated to these risk factors are diagnosed each year. Scientists have hypothesized that a group of pathogens may be responsible for causing periodontal disease and the resulting chronic systemic inflammation that may contribute to the development of gastric cancer.

This study assesses the association between periodontal pathogen colonization and the potential risk of developing precancerous lesions – including chronic atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia – that may predict stomach cancer.

The researchers studied 105 individuals scheduled to receive an upper endoscopy. After the endoscopic procedure and histopathologic evaluation, 35 people were diagnosed with precancerous lesions of gastric cancer and another 70 people of the same ages without precancerous lesions were included in the study as a control group.

The researchers concluded that the colonization of microbes (germs) and lack of bacterial diversity in the oral cavity are important factors that, when at higher or lower levels respectively, may contribute to an increased risk of developing precancerous gastric lesions.

So, it is critical not only to your oral health, but critical to your general health, to see your dentist regularly. Regular checkups will save your teeth and even save your life. ​

If you would like more information about cancer prevention, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.