Gum disease and pancreatic cancer may be closely related. According to a research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people with high levels of a specific oral bacterium are more likely to develop this cancer.
In this study, published in June 2016, researchers compared saliva samples of 360 people affected by pancreatic cancer with 370 healthy subjects. The result was that those with high levels of the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis were 59% more likely to develop this type of disease. Porphyromonas gingival is one of the most common harmful oral bacteria and is closely associated with periodontitis.
Previous research has associated the appearance of gum disease as a result of this cancer. However, this finding shows that high levels of oral bacteria can precede pancreatic cancer rather than develop as a result of the disease.
At the moment, not much is known about the causes of this cancer and it isn’t possible to ensure that these bacteria directly influence its development. However, some specialists like Dr. Jiyoung Anh of the New York University argues the validity of this study because these bacteria can cause inflammation of the pancreas and cancer is closely linked to that symptom. Another possibility is that the bacteria are simply a marker of existence of this disease.
Pancreatic cancer affects about 50,000 people annually so this may be another good reason to keep our gums healthy and visit the dentist with some frequency.
Original new: Harvard Medical School