Researchers pinpoint two bacteria for a connection
Jannette Whisenhunt, PhD, MEd, RDH
It’s amazing how many different varieties of bacteria there are in the oral cavity. Some of them are very dangerous and pathogenic and may have more implications in other diseases than we now know. Last month we looked at how the bacteria Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum) is closely related with colorectal cancer. Several studies have linked them together and the bacteria is found in many rectal cancer tumors. This month, I want to look into another type of cancer and another link with a periodontal disease bacteria—pancreatic cancer and its link with Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (A. actinomycetemcomitans).
Let’s quickly review a few studies that have discussed their link. A study by Julie Jacob found that more than 50% of patients who had pancreatic cancer also had a high percentage of the two pathogenic periodontal bacteria in their oral cavities, P. gingivalis and A. actinomycetemcomitans. “More than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.” Researchers found that the people who had these two bacteria in their mouths had a greater chance of developing pancreatic cancer. This gives researchers another marker to investigate and study. The researchers looked at why this occurs and hypothesized that the “oral bacteria dysbiosis” is a main reason.1
A study by Harvard School of Public Health looked at more than 51,000 male health professionals for more than 16 years. “After adjusting for age, smoking history, diabetes, obesity, diet, and other potentially confounding variables, the researchers concluded that men with a history of periodontal disease had a 63% increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to men without a history of periodontal disease.”2