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Issue Date:- 2 June 2008

Public warned about gum disease & cancer link as survey finds 29% have bleeding gums

THE British Dental Health Foundation has urged members of the public to 'Brush for Health' in National Smile Month after it was revealed that people with gum disease have a significantly higher risk of developing cancer.

According to the Foundation the combined results of 2 studies released this week show that people in the UK are increasing their cancer risk by failing to manage their oral health effectively.

This week a large scale study by Imperial College London has found that people with gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer, while the National Dental Survey 2008, conducted by the Foundation and Oral B, found that 29% of people suffer with bleeding gums.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented:- "Bleeding gums are caused by gum disease so it is a concern that such a large proportion of people experience this - especially with the cancer link.

Gum disease has already been linked to a range of serious general health conditions including heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and premature births; but the news that it could increase a person's cancer risk will still be a big concern for people."

The Health Professionals Follow-up Study was carried out by experts at Imperial College London who analysed the questionnaire based data of more than 48,000 American males. Most of the subjects had filled in surveys every 2 years with questions relating to oral health, tooth loss, gum disease, lifestyle factors and new cancer diagnoses.  The survey found that people with gum disease were 36% more likely to develop lung cancer, 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 30% more likely to develop hematologic cancers such as leukaemia.

Dr Carter added that:- "While further research is needed to confirm the link and to see if women are also at risk, these figures are undoubtedly a concern.

The latest National Dental Survey has shown that people in the UK need to improve their oral healthcare routines - a worrying 15% brush less than twice a day while 29% brush for less than a minute and this will drastically increase their gum disease risk.

A good oral healthcare routine should involve brushing for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cutting down how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

It can also be helpful to clean between the teeth daily using floss or interdental brushes.

Oral health is often considered to be of secondary importance to general health, but that is simply not the case.

It is high time that people realised that the mouth and the body are part of the same system and so need to be considered accordingly. 

Remember your mouth and your body talk; so look after them both!"

National Smile Month is running from 18 May 2008 to 17 June 2008 with the theme 'Brush for Health' being used to raise awareness of the links between the mouth and the body. 

The campaign has been launched in the USA for the 1st time this year with the Foundation working in conjunction with Oral Health America.

For more information on National Smile Month go to

100,000 people with diabetes in the North West risk losing sight

LEADING health charity Diabetes UK warns that 100,000 people with diabetes in the North West are at risk of losing their sight because they are not being screened for diabetic retinopathy, the primary cause of blindness in the UK’s working-age population.

The charity is calling for everyone aged 12 and over diagnosed with diabetes to have free retinal screening with a digital camera every year. Retinal screening is used to spot signs of retinopathy, a condition that occurs when blood vessels in the retina of the eye become blocked, leaky or grow haphazardly. This gets in the way of the light passing through to the retina and if left untreated can damage vision and ultimately cause blindness.

Helen Pattie, Regional Manager of Diabetes UK North West, says:- “It is appalling that almost a third of people with diabetes in the North West are not getting free digital retinal screening every year. If retinopathy is caught early and treated properly then blindness can be prevented in 90 per cent of cases, so the simple screening process really could save the sight of hundreds of thousands of people.

Retinal screening services in England are patchy. PCTs need to ensure they are reaching out to all eligible people to invite them for screening, and in turn people with diabetes must make every effort to get to these vital appointments. If they have problems attending they can talk to their healthcare team about what help and support is available.”

Diabetes UK works hard to raise awareness of the importance of retinal screening amongst people with diabetes. Last year the charity launched Your Vision, an awareness campaign supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Lilly. In addition, as Specsavers Opticians’ charity of the year, Diabetes UK is educating people about the importance of looking after their eyes.

Latest Government figures show that 103,063 people with diabetes aged 12 and over in the North West did not receive digital retinal screening in the year ending 31 March 2008. The national average for people that did receive screening was 67.7%  – this figure was 69.8% in the North West. Almost 60% of PCTs in England (94 out of 152) failed to meet their target of offering all people with diabetes the chance to be screened during this time.

People in the North-West Have Stopped Printing Photos

TODAY'S generation will have no memories stored on photos warns CeWe Color, Europe’s largest photo company, after a survey found that 88% of people in the North-West do not print out all of their digital pictures but often leave them languishing on computers, mobile phones or digital cameras to be forgotten, lost or deleted.  The survey also found that 31% of 16 to 24 year olds have lost or accidentally deleted their digital images.

Digital photos are increasingly being left in storage although the poll found that most people still prefer to look back on their pictures in print (48%) rather than digital format (31%).  Looking at photos could be problematic in the future unless photos are printed out or put in to photo books.

Andrew White, Internet Sales Manager, CeWe Color, believes that one of the main reasons why so many digital images are stuck on CDs, USB sticks and other storage devices is because people do not have a convenient way of turning them in to prints and albums. “The survey shows that most people prefer prints but because so many of us lead a hectic lifestyle, this often gets over looked. We tend to think that they’ll be safe indefinitely on a CD or a memory stick, but this isn’t necessarily true and there’s always the real risk that they can be lost, or the media on which they are stored becomes obsolete in the future, with no way to access the photos.”

The survey was commissioned by CeWe Color and conducted by GfK NOP. 1001 adults aged 16 or over were interviewed between 7 March 2008 and 9 March 2008. Data was weighted to bring it in line with national profiles.

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