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时间:2019-03-07 05:17:01166网络整理admin

By Andy Coghlan CONTRACEPTIVE pills can damage women’s gums, a study by dental researchers in Britain and Sri Lanka has shown. One Pill manufacturer shown the study by New Scientist says it is considering sponsoring research to gauge the extent of the problem among users. Preliminary results from the study, presented on 8 November at a meeting of the British Society for Endocrinology in London, suggest that gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, is unusually common in women taking the combined oral contraceptive Pill. “There could be quite obvious gum inflammation in Pill takers who neglect dental hygiene,” warns Mena Soory, a periodontology expert at the Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s Dental Institute in London. Pregnant women are known to suffer unusually high levels of gum disease. This is probably due to raised levels of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen during pregnancy. The hormones dilate blood vessels and alter cells in the lining of the gums. This aggravates and inflames the gum tissue. The symptoms usually disappear as hormone levels subside after birth. Soory wondered if contraceptives containing the hormones would produce similar or worse effects. To find out, she collaborated with Aruni Tilakaratne, a PhD student at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. Tilakaratne recorded the amount of gum disease in 49 Sri Lankan women who had taken the Pill for between 2 and 4 years. Most of the women took a modern, low-dose combined Pill containing both hormones, and a few took a higher dose preparation containing progesterone alone. Gingivitis was 32 per cent more common in these women than in the control group of 39 women who did not take the Pill. The symptoms were worst in women who had most bacterial plaque on their teeth. “The plaque may be the trigger that magnifies the inflammation,” says Soory. Other measurements showed that gaps between the teeth and gums of the Pill takers were on average 2.4 times as large as in non-users. But the differences only amounted to fractions of a millimetre—far smaller than the 3-millimetre gap that requires surgical cleaning of roots. “It would take a very long time to get appreciable disease,” says Soory. Tilakaratne also found that pregnant women do not have the abnormally wide gaps between teeth and gums seen in Pill takers. Soory speculates that this extra damage occurs in Pill takers because they are exposed to the hormones for years. She recommends strict dental hygiene for Pill users. “Maintain regular dental check-ups and increase hygiene at home,” she says. “Brush twice a day and floss before bed.” Organon, a major manufacturer of oral contraceptive pills in Oss, the Netherlands, has held internal meetings to discuss the issue. “This area really is starting now,” says Bjorn Oddens of Organon. “We’re still wondering what we’ll do.” Other experts reacted with surprise to the findings. “I’ve never heard that reported anywhere else,” says Michael Harper, a contraceptives researcher at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. But if it’s true, he adds,