Reduce Liver Cancer Risk Through Dental Care

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast found an unexpected link between liver cancer and poor oral hygiene.

Liver infections like hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis due to heavy alcohol consumption, and fatty liver disease from high alcohol intake, high-fat diets, and diabetes contribute to this cancer’s prevalence. Now, poor oral hygiene is a possible risk factor, too. It’s a reminder that liver cancer is unpredictably complex, and addressing its risk factors is imperative for prevention.


About the Study

In an analysis of 469,628 individuals in the United Kingdom, Dr. Haydée Jordão and her fellow researchers aimed to uncover the link between oral health issues and the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, such as liver, colon, rectum, and pancreatic cancer.

Over the six-year study period, 4,069 participants developed gastrointestinal cancer. Notably, in 13% of these cases, individuals mentioned having poor oral health. The research also identified a connection between poor oral health and certain demographic factors, including being young, female, and residing in economically disadvantaged communities.


Research About Liver Cancer and Poor Oral Hygiene

Dr. Jordão, the study’s lead author, emphasized that poor oral health has long been associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, she pointed out that the evidence on the exact relationship between poor oral health and gastrointestinal cancers has been inconsistent and inadequate, which prompted their research in Belfast.


Role of Oral and Gut Microbes

As to why poor oral health may cause liver cancer, Dr. Jordão has two theories. Her primary idea involves the oral and gut microbiomes, which partake in disease development.

If a patient has hepatitis, cirrhosis, or cancer, the liver’s ability to eliminate bacteria diminishes. This compromised function allows harmful microorganisms to persist in the body for extended periods, potentially posing more dangers. Among these microbes, Fusobacterium nucleatum in the human oral cavity has raised concerns due to its uncertain role in liver cancer. Consequently, Dr. Jordão stressed the need for further research exploring the relationship between the microbiome and liver cancer.


Role of Existing Dental Conditions

Another theory linking poor oral health to increased liver cancer risk involves existing oral health problems. For example, individuals with missing teeth may be unable to consume a nutritionally balanced diet. Lean proteins, including chicken, turkey, eggs, almonds, and soy, may help protect against liver cancer. People with missing teeth may experience discomfort and struggle to chew solid foods, thereby lacking proper nutrition and elevating their vulnerability to liver cancer.


How to Prevent Liver Cancer Through Oral Care and More

While liver cancer has various risk factors, many are lifestyle-related and preventable, including poor oral health. Of course, oral hygiene alone cannot eliminate the risk. But if simple tasks like brushing and flossing, as well as modifying certain lifestyle choices, can somehow reduce the 75% heightened risk for liver cancer, then we have more to gain and nothing to lose. In this section, we will discuss these preventive measures.


1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Although October is National Dental Hygiene Month, it should be a year-round event, especially since the easiest way to prevent liver cancer may start with maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Daily toothbrushing, flossing, and regular appointments with a dentist in Chandler, Arizona, can help prevent dental problems, which, in turn, may mitigate the risk of some chronic diseases.

Helpful articles about teeth and gum care:


2. Seek Treatments for Dental Problems and Diseases

If you have an existing oral health condition, such as gum disease or infections, schedule your appointment at Kyrene Family Dentistry now to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms before they progress and contribute to systemic issues.

Helpful articles about tooth and gum problems:


3. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Address all risk factors that may lead to cancer and other problems, including poor oral health. Stop smoking (it destroys your teeth), limit alcohol intake, and maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet of fruits and veggies. Avoid processed and fatty foods to reduce the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a risk factor for liver cancer.


4. Get Vaccinated Against Hepatitis

Since hepatitis B and C are leading causes of liver cancer in the US, getting vaccinated is a vital preventive measure. The hepatitis B vaccine is available at a doctor’s office or health department for all age groups. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent it is by avoiding behaviors that spread the disease, such as sharing needles or injecting drugs with non-sterile syringes. If you have either condition, both are treatable with antiviral medications.


5. Stay Physically Active

There is no way of escaping this one. No matter how busy life gets, we all need to make time for regular exercise. Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors elevate the risk of several cancer types, including liver cancer. If you smoke, drink alcohol, and make poor lifestyle choices on top of being sedentary, your risk for cancer rises further. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week – and again, drop the bad habits – to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


6. Get Regular Health Check-Ups

Routine visits to a healthcare provider can detect liver cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable. The associated tests, including blood and urine analyses, are also essential in the early detection of hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, and fatty liver disease. These tests uncover subtle signs that may otherwise go unnoticed, enabling timely intervention to safeguard your liver and overall well-being.


7. Seek Guidance from a General Dentist in Chandler, Arizona

Don’t wait for oral health problems to escalate and potentially lead to liver cancer. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shervin Rahimi today and take the first step toward a healthy smile and a healthier you. Your dental health matters, and Kyrene Family Dentistry is here to help you maintain it. Book your visit now.