Just one more reason why you should see your Castle Rock dentist about the possibility of gum disease – your checkup could help lower your risk of pancreatic cancer. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that individuals with high levels of a specific oral bacterium are far more likely to develop pancreatic cancer – a disease that impacts the lives of over 50,000 Americans annually – when compared to those without the bacteria.
The Link Between Gum Disease & Cancer
As part of the study, researchers compared the saliva sample of 361 participants who later developed pancreatic cancer with samples from 371 health individuals. The researchers discovered that individuals with high levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis had a significantly higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. P. gingivalis is one of the most common types of harmful bacteria found in the mouth and has been strongly linked to periodontitis – a gum infection that destroys the soft tissue and supporting bone structure that holds are teeth into position.
The results of this study build on previous research that has linked gum disease with pancreatic cancer. However, the results of this study are the firs to show that significant oral bacteria levels can precede pancreatic cancer rather than developing after the cancer has appeared.
Not much is known about the causes of pancreatic cancer, and researchers warn that it’s too early to draw any conclusion about whether or not P. gingivalis actually contributes to the development of the disease. However, researchers involved in the project believe that one theory that explains the connection involves the inflammation caused by P. gingivalis is related to cancer, as the bacteria could cause inflammation in the pancreas. Another possibility, however, is that the bacteria are simply a marker for cancer-causing inflammation.
Protecting Your Oral & Overall Health
In light of this and other studies, it’s become clear that our oral health matters more now than ever. In addition to pancreatic cancer, research has also found compelling links between gum disease and a range of chronic long-term illnesses that include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, arthritis, dementia, and oral and colon cancer.
In order to lower your risk of these types of diseases, it’s vital that you treat your oral health with the same level of attention as you would your cholesterol, blood pressure, or weight.
Fortunately, enjoying a lifetime of quality oral health can be accomplished in three simple steps.
- Brush twice a day. Brushing helps to remove plaque and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating from the surface of your teeth and gum line. When left in the mouth, these substances can greatly increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease by providing plaque with the fuel it needs to produce harmful acids that slowly erode away tooth enamel.
- Floss daily. Flossing helps to remove plaque and food particles from areas of your mouth a toothbrush just cannot reach – between your teeth and below the gum line. While some recent news reports have recently questioned if flossing really makes a difference, your Castle Rock dentist wants you to know that habit can still dramatically lower your risk for gum disease and cavities.
- Schedule regular dental visits. Monitoring your oral health for any signs of disease is an important part of protecting your long-term health. By scheduling regular dental exams and appointments with our staff at Glow Comprehensive Dental, early signs of tooth decay or gum disease can be spotted before the condition has a chance to develop into a far more serious problem.