A Deadly Cancer
It is predicted that over 30,000 Americans will die from pancreatic cancer this year alone. Through many studies, evidence is pointing more directly towards specific potential causes of the disease, although certainty has not been established as to an absolute cause. Cigarette smoking, for example, has been directly linked as an apparent risk factor associated with the disease. Obesity and diabetes type 2 are also linked as potentially adding increased risks.
An interesting study that was recently completed by researchers at the HSPH (Harvard School of Public Health) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, concluded that periodontal disease may also be linked, evidently causing an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. This may be the first factual evidence found supporting the theory that periodontal disease may lead toward this serious form of cancer.
Periodontal disease is a severe gum disease that can potentially lead to bone and eventual tooth loss. It is caused by a bacterial infection, and is generally first recognized by redness, inflammation and bleeding gums. Evidence has shown a noticeable link between this severe gum disease and cancer of the pancreas.
Correlation Between These Diseases
A study that began in 1986 and ended in 2002, comparing 51,529 U.S. adult males, showed a noticeable correlation between these two diseases. Every two years, the participants were asked to respond to a detailed questionnaire regarding their health. The results of the study showed that out of the 216 of the participants who had developed pancreatic cancer, 67 of them also reported cases of periodontal disease.
Once all the data was thoroughly analyzed, the conclusion was made that men with periodontal disease were at a 63% greater risk of developing cancer of the pancreas than the men who had never suffered from the serious gum disease.
So where is the correlation? Some theories suggest that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease may actually stimulate the growth of cancer cells. The reason for this is not certain, but some have speculated that the elevated serum biomarkers caused by periodontal disease may be a contributing factor to this unnatural growth.
Other researchers believe that the higher levels of oral bacteria and nitrosamines caused by periodontal disease may lead to increased carcinogens in the pancreas. Evidence has previously shown that nitrosamines may contribute to this type of cancer.
With cancer as a possible outcome, it is important to receive treatment as soon as gum problems are noticed.