Well, it’s October, which means cooler temperatures, ghosts and goblins, and football Saturdays and Sundays. It also means it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is signified by wearing pink. This annual international health campaign was started to both increase the awareness of breast cancer, as well as to help raise funds to hopefully find a cure. While research has come a long way, there is still much that needs to be done. Shows of support can be seen everywhere, from the pink lighting of famous landmarks to numerous fund raising activities. Even the NFL has gotten in on the action.
This terrible disease continues to impact those that we care about the most. In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the leading type of cancer in women, and is the second highest cause of death for them as well. Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
With these jaw dropping statistics, the idea of early detection, as well as prevention are ever so important. Monthly self exams, as well as routine screenings by a healthcare professional will aid in early detection of any possible issues.
You’re probably saying to yourself right about now, “Wow those are some really profound facts; but what on earth does this have to do with dentistry?” Interestingly enough, there has been a recent breakthrough linking dental health with breast cancer. A recent study performed by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden on more than 3,000 patients showed those who had gum disease and tooth loss had more than 11 times greater risk of developing breast cancer. Although this is the first study to show a link between gum disease and breast cancer, gum disease has also been associated with pancreatic cancer, heart disease, stroke, and premature and low-birth-weight babies. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria, and over time turns pink, healthy gums into a red, swollen, bleeding mess, and is the number one cause for tooth loss in adults in this country.
So, in the theme of wearing pink as a show of support for those affected by breast cancer this month, make sure your gums join in on the action and are nice and pink … it may just save your life.