Pancreatic Cancer and Gum Disease Linked

If you’ve been keeping up on the developments with periodontal disease and other health problems, then you probably won’t be surprised to find that periodontal disease may also be linked to pancreatic cancer.  So far periodontal disease has been linked to a host of other chronic illnesses including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, lung infections, diabetes, and impotence in men. Read on to find out more information regarding pancreatic cancer and gum disease.

A recent study from a team including researchers at Brown University and the British Dental Health Association, has found links between gum disease and pancreatic cancer. The study was published in the journal Gut and links a particular bacteria to the development of pancreatic cancer by tracing the level of antibodies present in the blood of those who would later go on to be diagnosed.

Gum Disease Antibodies and Pancreatic Cancer

The study found that in the blood samples of over 800 European males, which were taken before a diagnosis of cancer, levels of an antibody specific to periodontal disease were correlated with the development of pancreatic cancer later in life. When the periodontal bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis amasses in the mouth, certain antibodies are released to attack it. It is these antibodies that were measured in the study, and which are now allowing association between the bacteria and the development of pancreatic cancer.

The fact that blood samples were taken prior to a diagnosis leaves no doubt that the increased antibody levels were not caused by the cancer itself, but are perhaps linked to its development later on down the road. Though no causal link has yet been established between the two, studies have found similar links, and experts intend to conduct further research that could possibly help diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier in the future.

Pancreatic Cancer

Your pancreas is an organ located behind the lower part of your stomach. A major cause of death among cancers, pancreatic cancer is known to spread rapidly. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer don’t often appear until the disease is too far advanced to be treated. Every year about 32,000 people in the U.S. and 60,000 people in Europe are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. Symptoms can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain possibly radiating toward your back
  • Blood clots
  • Jaundice
  • Depression

Research Studies

The first link discovered between severe periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer among men was in 2007 during a Harvard research study. Data was collected beginning in 1986 from 51,000 men. By the end of the study it was found that men with a history of gum disease had a 64 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared with men who had never had gum disease. Those with an increased severity of periodontitis, for example with recent tooth loss, had the greatest risk. Although it has not been proven that periodontitis causes pancreatic cancer, the results of the study help to emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene to reduce the risk for cancer,  and help to maintain overall good health.

About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

Aside from providing dependable general and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.