Recent Blog Articles
Prostate cancer in transgender women
Why eat lower on the seafood chain?
Can long COVID affect the gut?
When replenishing fluids, does milk beat water?
Safe, joyful movement for people of all weights
Slowing down racing thoughts
Are women turning to cannabis for menopause symptom relief?
3 ways to create community and counter loneliness
Helping children make friends: What parents can do
Can electrical brain stimulation boost attention, memory, and more?
Gum disease may signal warning for pancreatic cancer
In the Journals
Still another reason to see your dentist about possible gum disease: the check-up may protect you from pancreatic cancer. Research reported in the June 28, 2016, Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with high levels of a specific oral bacterium are more likely to get this type of cancer, which strikes more than 50,000 people annually.
Researchers compared saliva samples from 361 people who later developed pancreatic cancer with 371 samples from healthy subjects. They found that those with high levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis had a 59% greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. P. gingivalis is one of the most common harmful oral bacteria and is strongly linked to periodontitis—a gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports teeth.
This study builds on previous research that has associated gum disease with pancreatic cancer. Yet these findings are the first to show that significant oral bacteria levels can precede pancreatic cancer instead of developing after the cancer has appeared.
Not much is known about what causes pancreatic cancer, and it is too early to say whether this specific bacterium directly contributes to the disease. However, lead researcher Dr. Jiyoung Ahn of New York University says one theory is that since inflammation is related to cancer, the bacteria could cause inflammation in the pancreas. Another possibility is the bacteria are simply a marker for cancer-causing inflammation.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!