Pancreatic cancer patients are known to be susceptible to gum disease, cavities, and poor oral health in general, say the study authors. That vulnerability led the research team to search for direct links between the makeup of bacteria driving oral disease and subsequent development of pancreatic cancer, a disease that often escapes early diagnosis and causes 40,000 US deaths annually.
Researchers compared bacterial contents in mouthwash samples from 361 American men and women who developed pancreatic cancer with samples from 371 people of similar age, gender, and ethnic origin who did not. All were initially healthy and participating in larger ongoing cancer-risk studies led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society. Mouthwash samples were obtained at the beginning of each investigation, after which participants were monitored for nearly a decade to determine who got cancer.
Researchers found 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.
Main finding of the study was presented in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
In another study published last month, author’s colleagues showed that cigarette smoking was linked to dramatic, although reversible, changes in the amount and mix of bacteria in the oral microbiome. But they caution that further research is needed to determine if there is any cause-and-effect relationship, or how or whether such smoking-related changes alter the immune system or otherwise trigger cancer-causing activities in the pancreas.
Linking oral bacteria to pancreatic cancer!
- 706 views