How brushing your teeth lowers your risk of cancer
|Author: Written by Alexandra Sifferlin Added by Lan X|
Date: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
|Return to Archive|
HPV-caused throat cancermade headlines this summer when the Guardian reported that actor Michael Douglas contracted throat cancer not through tobacco and alcohol, but from human papillomavirus.
Douglas later said the statement was a misunderstanding, but doctors say HPV could actually contribute to malignant growths in the throat, most likely via oral sex. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control reports that about 60% of oropharyngeal cancers — cancers of the throat, tonsils and the base of tongue — are related to HPV.
Now, a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research reports that poor oral health, which includes dental problems and gum disease, is an independent risk factor for oral HPV infection, and by extension, could also contribute to oral cancers. The research team from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston studied more 3,400 participants between the ages 30 to 69 who were part of the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The volunteers provided data on their oral health as well as on their HPV-infection status.
Douglas confession: TMI or FYI?
Those who reported poor oral health had a 56% higher rate of HPV infection than those whose mouths were healthy, and people who had gum disease and dental problems had a 51% higher risk of being infected with HPV than those who didn't have these issues.
The connection between the virus, which is most often associated with sexually transmitted diseases, and oral cancers only emerged about five years ago, Dr. Maura Gillison, a professor at Ohio State University who studies HPV infections in the head, throat and neck, told TIME in June.
Every year in the United States, more than 2,370 new cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women and about 9,356 are diagnosed in men. White men have the highest rates of HPV-related throat cancer, fueling a recent rise in HPV-related oral cancers overall while tumors associated with tobacco have been declining.
"In the U.S., there is an active shift going on," Gillison told TIME. "Fortunately thanks to tobacco policy and public-health awareness, the incidence rate for the classical head and neck cancer caused by smoking is declining. But unfortunately, the rate of oropharynx cancer is still going up and it's because of the HPV component."
Some of that rise can be attributed to barriers that public health campaigns faced in addressing a sexually transmitted virus. When two vaccines that protect against the most common forms of HPV became available after 2006, for example, political and social resistance to vaccinating young girls as part of the childhood vaccination schedule led to slow uptake of the inoculation.
Parents and politicians worried that the shot would promote promiscuity among pre-adolescents, and were also concerned about reports that the immunizations caused serious side effects such as fainting. There were even claims that they also contributed to mental disorders. Both proved unfounded, as studies verified the safety of the vaccines and the lack of heightened sexual activity among vaccinated girls.
If left untreated, HPV can cause cancers in the cervix, anus, penis, vulva, vagina, as well as in the head and neck. Some forms of the virus also contribute to genital warts, but the latest studies suggest that the HPV vaccines can lower infection rates and therefore may be important weapons in fighting not just cervical cancer but oral cancers as well.
That's important since there is currently no scientifically proven way of testing for oral HPV, which makes monitoring for these virus-related cancers in the mouth more challenging and preventing them more critical.
Even without a shot, however, the researchers say their results hint that it may be relatively easy to control HPV in the oropharynx — by brushing regularly and keeping the mouth environment clean.
"The good news is, the risk factor is modifiable -- by maintaining good oral hygiene and good oral health, one can prevent HPV infection and subsequent HPV-related cancers," said study author Thanh Cong Bui, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in a statement.
And there are other benefits to brushing as well. Good oral health may also prevent other conditions such as the gum disease gingivitis, which has been linked to heart disease. A healthy mouth, it seems can also be a sign of a healthy body.
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- JUNE 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS July 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Online Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Training Resources & Event Planning Services
Western Kentucky University Libraries has selected River Runs Deep, by Jennifer Bradbury, as the winner of the eleventh Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award
Dr. David Keeling, Distinguished University Professor of Geography, returned recently from a Latin American expedition that visited seven destinations, completing a three-week journey representing WKU and the American Geographical Society.
The WKU Forensics Team traveled to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to take part in four tournaments the weekend of Oct. 21-22.
Katherine Crider of Dawson Springs was crowned WKU’s 2017 Homecoming queen on Saturday (Oct. 14).
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,