How brushing your teeth can ward off CANCER: Bacteria found in the mouth ‘linked to deadly strains of the disease’

Since childhood we are told to brush our teeth twice a day, or risk painful cavities and rotting teeth.

But new research suggests that properly cleaning our teeth may also help ward off a particularly vicious form of cancer.

Scientists have discovered that pancreatic cancer – one of the most deadly – is linked to two types of bacteria that also cause gum disease.A team in the US found that people who had these two bugs in their mouths were up to twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer over the next decade.
Scientists from New York University found that people who had these two bugs in their mouths were up to twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer over the next decade
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Scientists from New York University found that people who had these two bugs in their mouths were up to twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer over the next decade

The scientists, who presented their results at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in New Orleans, said the findings offered an ‘accessible’ means to prevent the disease.

But aside from helping people reduce their risk, they also said it might give doctors a cheap and easy way to screen for the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is the eleventh most common cancer in Britain, with around 9,000 people diagnosed each year.

But it is also one of the most deadly – with only three per cent of patients surviving for five years, compared to 87 per cent for breast cancer and 98 per cent for testicular cancer.

Part of the problem is that the disease causes few symptoms in the early stages, so often goes undetected until the cancer is too advanced to treat.
Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all 22 common cancers – at just 3 per centpancreas cancer

Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all 22 common cancers – at just 3 per cent

Doctors call the disease ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ because the symptoms – back ache, jaundice and weight loss – are often mistaken for those of indigestion, acid reflux or back strain.

Effective screening tests are desperately needed – and the presence of bacteria in the mouth could offer such a test.

The scientists, from New York University, tracked 732 people for more than a decade, half of whom went on to develop pancreatic cancer and half who remained healthy.

The researchers, who had taken oral samples at the beginning of the project, found that two forms of bacteria were directly linked to pancreatic cancer risk.

People with the P. gingivalis bug had a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who did not, and those with the A. actinomycetemcomitans bug had an increased risk of 119 per cent.

Both bugs are known to be a cause of periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.

The team cautioned that they could not be sure that the bacteria actually caused the cancer, because they had only studied the statistical link, and did not know why the bugs might play a role in cancer risk.

British experts said that it may be that people who had a worse lifestyle in general, and so already at greater risk of pancreatic cancer, might be less likely to look after their teeth.

But previous research has suggested that the bacteria in dental plaque build-ups may trigger inflammation, which could lead to cancer.

 

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