After finding a link between oral bacteria and pregnancy, Dr. Yiping Han realized oral bacteria don’t stop at pregnancy. Dr. Han is currently researching how similar oral pathogens might travel to the colon and stimulate and promote colorectal cancer (33).
While we’re on the subject of cancer, pancreatic cancer (arguably one of the scariest cancers because of limited early detection and very low survival rate) is also part of the oral-systemic connection. Recent studies show that 2 specific oral bacteria increase your risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa) increases a person’s risk for pancreatic cancer by 119%, and Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) increases risk by 59% (22). More interesting is the research that suggests that having a healthy oral biofilm (when your mouth has only the good bacteria) is protective against developing pancreatic cancer (23). Researchers believe that the healthy oral biofilm releases signals to the body that improves and heightens the immune system causing a protective mechanism against developing cancer.
Lung, Kidney, Pancreatic, and White Blood Cell Cancer
Studies (24) show gum disease significantly increases the risk factors for lung, kidney, pancreatic, and white blood cell cancer. Research is continuing to find out if a healthy oral biofilm will prove to also provide protection against developing these cancers.
Here’s a scary statistic. The fastest growing segment of the oral and oropharyngeal cancer population is HEALTHY NON-SMOKERS in the 25-50 age range (38). This is completely contrary to the long-time belief that the only people at risk for oral cancer are smokers and tobacco users. We now know that the leading cause of oropharyngeal (back of the tongue, throat, and pharynx) cancers is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) (37). Over 200 strains of HPV exist, 9 cause cancer (another 6 might also cause cancer), and HPV strain 16 (the same strain that causes cervical, anal, and penile cancers) is the main cause for oropharyngeal cancer (38).
At Intown Smile Studio, we use simple saliva tests to check for HPV and “flashlight” oral cancer screening technology. We can measure your risk factors, and we can screen for cancer in its very early stages. In doing so, our patients have the opportunity for more simple treatment procedures and a better survival outlook. Dr. Estep recommends all patients over 25 be saliva-tested for HPV, and she encourages all of her patients have a “flashlight” oral cancer screening once every year (more frequently for patients with risk factors).
Another link to oral cancer is chronic periodontitis (gum disease). Research reveals that a patient who has untreated gum disease increases risk for tongue cancer (39).
These other conditions can be affected by your oral health. Learn more by clicking the links below: