Over the past few months, the amount of news about the connection between oral health and other forms of physical health have only increased. The latest news has linked poor oral hygiene with an area of the body that most people do not think about when they think of their teeth – the liver.
Researchers in Belfast found that patients that showed signs of poor oral health were also 75% more likely to have liver cancer, and while this research is in its earlier stages, there are reasons to believe its accuracy.
Why Liver Cancer?
Traditionally, liver cancer – in particular, hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form) is associated with liver related diseases including Hep B and Hep C. It is also associated with alcoholism and diabetes as well. But a lot of the cases of liver cancer were previously unknown.
Poor oral hygiene and oral health often means that the teeth are filled with bacteria and germs. Every day, all throughout the day, a person is swallowing those germs through their saliva and food. The liver is one of the organs responsible for eliminating bacteria once it has entered the body. It is possible that this is one of the factors that plays a role.
But it’s still early. We’ll learn over the next few years if poor oral health leads to liver cancer and why. Correlation also doesn’t equal causation, which means there may be another factor that leads to both issues.
Nevertheless, the results of the study are promising when it comes to combatting liver cancer once and for all. New research is needed to see how strong the links are and why. Until then, we do know that taking care of your teeth can prevent against:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Aspiration Pneumonia
If those reasons aren’t enough, perhaps the potential to protect against liver cancer can help motivate you to take care of your teeth even more.