One more reason to keep up with frequent visits to the dentist: researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and New York University School of Medicine have linked certain bacteria found in your mouth to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
What Does This Mean?
Researchers have known for some time that pancreatic cancer patients are more likely to have poor oral health, including cavities and cases of gum disease, than other people. Wondering why that was, the authors of this study decided to look into the bacteria in the mouth that cause these kinds of oral issues. They found that the presence of this bacteria is an indicator of an increased risk of pancreatic cancer; other indicators include older age, male gender, smoking, African-American race, and a family history of the disease, the study says.
The study reveals that “men and women whose oral microbiomes included Porphyromonas gingivalis had an overall 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those whose microbiomes did not contain the bacterium. Similarly, oral microbiomes containing Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans were at least 50 percent more likely overall to develop the disease.” According to the study’s lead investigator, these two types of bacteria are linked to inflammation of the gums (periodontitis).
How Does This Help Us?
Researchers often look for early indicators of diseases, so that people with high risk factors can be screened earlier. There are several methods for screening for pancreatic cancer, which are usually only performed on people who exhibit high risk factors. So, this study will help determine another group of people who may need early screening — and it provides yet another reason to make sure you are aware of your oral health by seeing a dentist frequently.
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