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Periodontal disease and breast cancer

 Periodontal disease may be a risk factor for breast cancer.

Periodontal disease and breast cancer

The oncological treatment of breast cancer is associated with the appearance of specific complications that can affect the oral health of patients suffering from this type of cancer.
Breast cancer and oral complications

International Breast Cancer Day, celebrated on October 19, is a reminder of the commitment of the whole of society in the fight against breast cancer, the most frequent tumor in Western women. In addition, a recent study by the University of Buffalo (USA), published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, demonstrates a link between gum disease and breast cancer.

Specifically, the researchers responsible for this study have found that periodontal disease is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women past menopause, especially in those who are or have been smokers. 

The researchers followed more than 73,000 postmenopausal women who had participated in an observational study and whose breast tumors had not previously been detected. Of these, 26.1% had periodontal disease, the incidence of which varied whether or not the woman was a smoker. After an average follow-up time of 6.7 years, 2,124 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. And when they cross-checked the data, they saw that the risk was 14% higher among women with periodontal disease.

The study also shows that among women who had quit smoking in the last 20 years and had periodontal disease, the risk of these tumors was 36% higher, while in those who smoked at the time of the study, the risk was 32% higher if they had periodontal disease. However, the association was not statistically significant.

Oral complications specific to breast cancer

On the other hand, oncological treatment of breast cancer is associated with the appearance of specific complications that can affect the oral health of patients suffering from this type of cancer.

Hormonal circumstances intervene in the oncological treatment of breast cancer. They can influence the appearance and development of specific oral complications due to chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure or so-called hormonal therapies. It should also be noted that the treatments and their effects can be sustained over time, so oral care must be continuous.

Breast cancer patients face several factors related mainly to the change (usually decrease) in estrogen levels. This female hormone is related to bone loss, which can impact oral health. But estrogens also act directly on the teeth and tissues of the mouth, so their alterations will directly impact these structures. 

Hormonal changes since perimenopause affects oral health.

Hormonal changes can affect oral health during perimenopause, the period of transition to menopause, and during menopause. 

Hormonal changes cause women to produce less saliva, which increases the risk of suffering caries and dry mouth. Therefore, it is essential to hydrate properly, preferably always with water, and avoid acidic or sugary drinks.

Related to xerostomia or dry mouth, the Burning Mouth Syndrome can arise, characterized by an unpleasant and intense burning and stinging sensation, which can even lead to changes in taste.

These crucial periods in a woman's life cycle are also delicate for the gums, so redness and weakness, bleeding, sensitivity, periodontitis, and mucosal weakness may appear.

Among the general recommendations, it is indicated not to neglect daily oral hygiene, use interdental brushes that help remove food debris, and emphasize brushing before bed—eating a balanced diet and eliminating bad habits such as smoking is also essential.

 Sometimes, women feel that perimenopause and menopause are taboo subjects or brutal to get information about, making it challenging to prevent specific pathologies. Therefore, DentalOffice requests that this period of women's lives occupy more informative spaces.