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News / October 3, 2013

Dental cavities linked to reduced cancer risk

by Guy Hiscott

A surprising new study has claimed that people with large numbers of dental cavities are at lower risk of being diagnosed with head and neck cancer compared with patients who have few or no cavities.
The immune response linked with bacteria that cause caries could also help protect against cancer, a team at the University of Buffalo has found.
The researchers said: ‘Caries is a dental plaque-related disease. Lactic acid bacteria cause demineralisation (caries) only when they are in dental plaque in immediate contact with the tooth surface. The presence of these otherwise beneficial bacteria in saliva or on mucosal surfaces may protect the host against chronic inflammatory diseases and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
‘We could think of dental caries as a form of “collateral damage” and develop strategies to reduce its risk while preserving the beneficial effects of the lactic acid bacteria.’