A 20-year study has found not brushing your teeth increases your chances of developing cancer of the mouth or stomach.
Research in Boston, found a people with a history of gum disease were up to 52 per cent more likely to develop cancer in later life.
Scientists in the US found that gum disease appeared to be linked with a raised risk of cancer and this danger was even higher among people who had previously lost teeth.
According to the NHS‘ website, the leading cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene.
Research by scientists in Boston found a link between a history of gum disease and developing cancer of the mouth and stomach in later life
It is also known that gum disease can also lead to heart problems as bacteria spread through the blood.
A research team from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston looked at oesophageal and gastric cancer rates in 98,459 women and 49,685 men over a more than 20-year period.
The results showed that during 22 to 28 years of follow-up, there were 199 cases of oesophageal cancer and 238 cases of gastric cancer.
A history of gum disease was associated with a 43 per cent and 52 per cent increased risk of oesophageal cancer and gastric cancer, respectively, the study found.
Compared to people with no tooth loss, the risks of oesophageal and gastric cancer for those who lost two or more teeth were also modestly higher – 42 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, scientists said.
Those with a history of gum disease, no tooth loss and losing one or more teeth were equally linked with a 59 per cent increased risk of oesophageal cancer compared to those with no history of periodontal disease and no tooth loss, researchers said.
Similarly, the same group had 50 per cent and 68 per cent greater risk of gastric cancer, the study found.
A link between bacteria commonly found in the mouth – such as that tannerella forsythia and porphyromonas gingivalis – and oesophageal cancer has been made by other scientists in previous studies.
Another possible reason is that poor oral hygiene and gum disease could promote the formation of bacteria known to cause gastric cancer, scientists said.
Previous findings on the relationship of gum disease and tooth loss with oesophageal and gastric cancer have been inconsistent, the authors said.