Poor oral health linked to increase in liver cancer risk

poor oral health and liver cancer

Poor oral health is associated with a 75 per cent increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, new research from Ireland has found.

The study by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast—and published in United European Gastroenterology Journal—analysed a large cohort of over 469,000 people in the UK, investigating the association between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers, including liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic cancer. 

Models were applied to estimate the relationship between cancer risk and self-reported oral health conditions, such as painful or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and loose teeth.


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

“Poor oral health has been associated with the risk of several chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” lead author Dr Haydée WT Jordão said. 

“However, 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.”

The biological mechanisms by which poor oral health may be more strongly associated with liver cancer, rather than other digestive cancers, is currently uncertain. 

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