London: Failing to brush your teeth properly could increase the risk of dying prematurely from cancer, researchers claim.
They found a link between high levels of dental plaque, or bacteria, and dying from cancer up to 13 years earlier than might otherwise be expected.
Those with the most bacteria on the surface of their teeth and gums had an 80 percent increased risk of premature death, a newspaper reported Monday.
Researchers say infection and inflammation play a role in up to one in five cancers, and is a key element in gum disease caused by dental plaque.
Gum disease causes bad breath, bleeding gums and, if untreated, cavities, receding gums and tooth loss after plaque settles between teeth and under the gumline.
Similarly, the Swedish researchers behind the latest study have admitted their findings do not prove a causal link between cancer and dental plaque. Poor mouth hygiene may be an indicator of other lifestyle factors associated with cancer.
The study tracked the health of 1,390 randomly selected adults from Stockholm for 24 years, starting in 1985.