Periodontitis linked with cancer
 

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Periodontitis linked with cancer

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Periodontitis linked with cancer

 

Periodontitis linked with cancer

A new extensive study has identified a link between periodontal disease and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was carried out by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

‘Our study provides the first strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer,’ said lead author Dominique Michaud from HSPH. ‘This finding is of significance as it may provide some new insights into the mechanism of this highly fatal disease.’

The research team found that men with periodontal or gum disease had a 63% higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer as compared to those without the condition.

Michaud added: ‘Most convincing was our finding that never-smokers had a two-fold increase in risk of pancreatic cancer. Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, and these may somehow contribute to the promotion of cancer cells.’

Michaud also suggested that periodontal disease could lead to increased pancreatic carcinogenesis because individuals with periodontitis have higher levels of oral bacteria and nitrosamines, which are carcinogens, in their oral cavity. Previous studies had shown that nitrosamines and gastric acidity may play a role in pancreatic cancer.

The research team gathered data from 51,529 male health professionals aged between 40 and 75. The participants completed a questionnaire about their health and lifestyle every two years from 1986 to 2002. Of the group, 216 patients developed pancreatic cancer and 67 got periodontal disease. The researchers used statistical analyses to evaluate the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Senior author Dr Charles Fuchs, a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said the investigation went beyond the scope of previous studies by offering more detailed data, as well as drawing from a bigger sample size.

Two smaller studies had recently found the same connection between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer, but experts agreed they were not as reliable because some of the participants were smokers. Smoking is one of a few known risk factors for pancreatic cancer, and the researchers from this investigation eliminated smokers from their analysis.

While the study does not definitively prove that gum disease causes cancer, the researchers say the evidence is strong. The study also highlights the importance of oral health in achieving a healthy lifestyle and Dr Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said: ‘A healthy mouth may be a healthy body as well.’

Pancreatic cancer is rarely diagnosed until it is far advanced, so ways of identifying people at high risk at an earlier stage might save lives.

 Posted on : Fri 19th - Jan - 2007

 

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