5 Studies That Link Oral Health to Pancreatic Cancer

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) reports that pancreatic cancer is the 12th most commonly occurring cancer in men and the 11th most commonly occurring cancer in women worldwide. In 2018, the UAE had the highest rate of pancreatic cancer in women.

Pancreatic cancer is almost always fatal. It is most treatable at its early stage, but there are usually no symptoms. Because of this, it is usually diagnosed when it has reached a more advanced stage.

The risk factors for pancreatic cancer include being overweight or obese, consumption of red meat, processed meat and alcohol, smoking and workplace exposure to certain chemicals and genes. More than 90% of pancreatic cancer cases are sporadic, although a family history increases risk, particularly where more than one family member is involved. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer also goes up with aging.

What about oral health? Could poor oral health increase one’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer? Here are 5 studies that show the connection between them.

  • 1

    Oral bacteria in pancreas linked to more aggressive tumors

    It is currently difficult to differentiate between pancreatic tumors. Many patients have to undergo surgery to rule out cancer. A March 2019 study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden discovered that the presence of oral bacteria inside cystic pancreatic tumors is linked to how severe the tumor is. Published in British Society of Gastroenterology’s official journal, the study hopes to improve diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

  • 2

    Poor oral health puts African American women at higher risk for pancreatic cancer

    In March 2019, a study published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal concluded that periodontitis (advanced stage of gum disease) and tooth loss experienced by many African American women may contribute to their higher incidence of pancreatic cancer. Researchers from Boston University found that this association become even stronger for those who had lost at least five teeth.

  • 3

    The role of bacteria causing periodontitis on the onset of cancers including pancreatic cancer

    In January 2018, researchers at the University of Helsinki, the Helsinki University Hospital and the Karolinska Institutet have proven the existence of the mechanism through which the bacteria associated with periodontitis may have on the onset of cancers such as pancreatic cancer. This study is published in the British Journal of Cancer.

  • 4

    Study links periodontal disease bacteria to pancreatic cancer risk

    In June 2016, a research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with high saliva levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis – a specific type of oral bacteria strongly linked to periodontitis – are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

  • 5

    Pancreatic cancer risk tied to specific mouth bacteria

    A study presented in the American Association for Cancer Research in April 2016 suggests that the presence of bacteria linked to periodontal disease in the mouths of healthy individuals was associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing pancreatic cancer. Although the data do not show a causal relationship, NYU Langone Medical Center researchers say that these are the first steps in understanding a potential new risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

More and more scientific discoveries reveal how oral health is connected to our overall being. Oral hygiene including twice-daily brushing and flossing, a healthy diet and regularly visiting your nearest dentist are very important in keeping your mouth and body healthy.

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