Bacteria in one's mouth and pancreatic cancer? Yes, you read that correctly. It is well established that oral health is linked to systemic health, and the relationships between oral health and the systemic continue to increase.
Research conducted by Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, suggests that certain oral bacteria may be linked to an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Specifically, the researchers found that two species implicated in periodontal disease (Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans) were associated with a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
How did they find this?
The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society collected oral-wash samples from 140,000 healthy individuals which the NYU researchers later analyzed. The individuals were followed for ten years, and during those ten years, 361 developed pancreatic cancer. Ahn compared the oral bacteria of the people who developed pancreatic cancer with those who did not develop pancreatic cancer. She found elevated levels of bacteria that are associated with periodontal disease.
According to Dr. Ahn, previous studies indicate that gum disease is associated with an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Nonetheless, correlation does not indicate causation. Yet, the study does provide valuable information that may be helpful in the future. Perhaps, oral saliva samples will help with early detection of certain cancers in the future? The study also evinces just one more reason to manage and treat periodontal disease (gum disease).