Gum infections linked to precancerous stomach lesions

Gum infections may increase the risk for sores in the digestive tract, which can lead to stomach cancer, a small study suggests.

Researchers focused on periodontal disease - serious infections in the mouth caused by bacteria in dental plaque.

Daily brushing and flossing can prevent gingivitis, the milder form of periodontal disease, but untreated cases can lead to permanent damage to the gums and bone.

The new study involved 35 people with so-called precancerous lesions: abnormal cells or sores in the digestive tract where cancer is more likely to occur compared to normal tissue.

The researchers also studied a control group of 70 similar people who did not have these lesions.

Overall, 32 per cent of people with precancerous gastric lesions had the kind of bleeding during dental exams that is a hallmark of periodontal disease, compared with 22 per cent of individuals without precancerous lesions, the study found.

People with gastric precancerous lesions were also more likely to have high levels of several types of bacteria in their mouths that can contribute to periodontal disease.

"These bacteria are commonly found in periodontal pockets and are invasive because they can produce a variety of molecules that can cause damage to host tissue as well as host responses to bacterial colonisation, therefore contributing to cancer development," said senior study author Yihong Li.

Many cases of gastric cancer are linked to smoking and eating foods with a lot of salt or preservatives, researchers noted in their report.

Poor oral health has also been tied to these tumours.- REUTERS