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article imagePancreatic cancer connected to mouth bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Apr 9, 2017 in Science
New York City - The oral microbiome (that bacteria found in the mouth) can, if imbalanced, enhance the risk of a person developing pancreatic cancer. The finding adds to growing reports about the association between human microbes and disease.
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of cancer. This is because the cancer progresses without any evident symptoms resulting in diagnosis only being possible once the cancer has already spread. The mortality rate is also very high. This makes research into the disease an important medical priority. Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas – a large gland that's part of the digestive system.
One area of inquiry is with the human microbiome. These communities of microorganisms, in different environments, shape health processes, ranging from digestion (and thus influencing obesity) and immune responses. Ill-health effects can arise when populations of beneficial bacteria decline and less desirable bacteria increase in numbers.
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Looking at the microbial population in the mouth, scientists from New York University Langone’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center have established a relationship between pancreatic cancer and oral health.
The research involved examining the bacterial contents in mouthwash samples taken from 732 people over the course of 10 years. Over this period, 361 people were diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer. The data analysis found a correlation between pancreatic cancer and the higher numbers of two types of bacteria: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. Both of these bacteria are associated with cause gum disease and periodontitis. With those that did not develop cancer, the microbes were either not detected or found in relatively low numbers.
Lead researcher Jiyoung Ahn explains to Laboratory Roots: “Our study offers the first direct evidence that specific changes in the microbial mix in the mouth - the oral microbiome - represent a likely risk factor for pancreatic cancer along with older age, male gender, smoking, African-American race, and a family history of the disease.”
The researchers hope their finding can become the basis for a routine screening procedure. The results are preliminary and have yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal.
More about Mouth, Oral, oral bacteria, Bacteria, Microbiology
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