Poor Oral Health Increases Risk of Liver Cancer

You’ve probably heard from your dentist that the mouth is the gateway to the body. Today, we find that more and more evidence that back this statement up.

Research has shown the relationship between oral health and other diseases including pancreatic cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

To add this growing list is a new study which suggests that poor oral health increases the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, to up to 75%.

Liver cancer is said to be the sixth bigger cancer killer in the EU, causing the death of almost 60,000 people per year.

The research from Queen’s University Belfast involved 469,628 participants in the UK. The researchers investigated the association between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers, including liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic cancer.

“There is inconsistent evidence on the association between poor oral health and specific types of gastrointestinal cancers, which is what our research aimed to examine,” said Dr, Haydée WT Jordão, lead author of the study.

“Whilst no significant associations were observed on the risk of the majority gastrointestinal cancers and poor oral health, a substantial link was found for hepatobiliary cancer.”

“When the liver is affected by diseases, such as hepatitis or cancer, its function will decline, and bacteria will survive for longer and therefore have the potential to cause more harm. One bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum, originates in the oral cavity but its role in liver cancer is unclear. Further studies investigating the microbiome and liver cancer are therefore warranted.”

Simple ways to take care of your oral health

  1. Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  2. Floss your teeth once daily.
  3. Go for regular dental checkups and hygiene appointments every six months.
  4. Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  5. Eat a nutritious diet.


Haydée WT Jordão, Gerry McKenna, Úna C McMenamin, Andrew T Kunzmann, Liam J Murray, Helen G Coleman. The association between self-reported poor oral health and gastrointestinal cancer risk in the UK Biobank: A large prospective cohort study. United European Gastroenterology Journal, 2019; 205064061985804
SAGE. (2019, June 17). Poor oral health linked to a 75% increase in liver cancer risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 27, 2019 from sciencedaily.com


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