Being mindful of oral health care — brushing, flossing, and regular dental check up — may help prevent the onset of cancer, experts say. Various studies have shown that oral bacteria may be a contributing factor to the development of certain types of cancer. As such, gaining insight on the connection between oral bacteria and cancer may help health care practitioners determine a person’s cancer risk just by examining the bacterial composition in his mouth.
Dr. Jiyoung Ahn, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at New York University School of Medicine, confirmed in an article in DailyMail.co.uk that examining body’s microbiome composition is a relatively new field in health care science. According to Dr. Ahn, various studies from the past five years showed that 80 percent of bacteria living in the human body cannot be grown in a lab dish. While certain risk factors such as smoking and alcohol intake may alter the oral microbiome, researchers still hope that changes in the mouth’s bacterial composition may one day improve cancer diagnosis and aid in the development of potential treatments. (Related: Know more about potential cancer treatments at CancerSolutions.news).
A 2011 study revealed that oral bacteria may play a major role in breast cancer onset. Data on more than 3,000 women aged 30 to 40 years revealed that the risk of developing breast cancer was more than doubled in women who had chronic gum disease or had lost teeth due to periodontal disease compared with those who had healthier gums. The results were published in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences.
Health experts at the University of Buffalo in New York also found that gum disease-causing bacteria may trigger breast cancer onset. Researchers examined 73,000 postmenopausal women and found that women who had the gum disease had a 14 percent increased odds of developing breast cancer. The study also revealed that among women who quit smoking with the past twenty years, those who suffer gum disease had a 63 percent elevated risk of breast cancer. According to the scientists, oral bacteria may enter the body’s circulatory system, which then negatively affects breast tissues.
Poor oral health was also associated with increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, another study found. According to the study, people with higher levels of the oral bacteria P. gingivalis were 60 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared with those who had lower levels. Data also revealed that the oral bacteria A. actinomycetemcomitans was tied to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
A 2016 study revealed that an oral bacteria called fusobacterium may raise the odds of developing bowel cancer. The bacteria was known to cause gum bleeding, and was found to be more common in cancerous tumors that normal cells.
Another study showed that the oral bacteria F. nucleatum may influence the onset of esophageal cancer. Researchers at the Kumamoto University in Japan assessed DNA in cancer tissue samples of 325 patients. Data showed that patients who tested positive for the oral bacteria had shorter survival times than those who tested negative for the bacteria.
“This study suggested that the oral cavity bacterium F. nucleatum may be involved in the development and progression of esophageal cancer via chemokines. It should be noted that it is still unknown whether F. nucleatum itself causes esophageal cancer. Further analysis by more institutions, preferably world-wide, is desired since intestinal flora differs between individuals. In future research, after elucidating the role of F. nucleatum in esophageal cancer development in more detail, we should be able to develop new drugs to better treat this form of cancer,” said lead researcher Professor Hideo Baba, as reported in AsianScientist.com.