Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Smokers form the majority of those who are usually affected
It is one of the most deadly cancers, largely because it escapes detection until it has spread to other parts. Only about five percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive the first five years after being diagnosed.
Lately, it has been reported that gum disease may increase the risk of developing this deadly cancer. This finding, by Dr. Dominique S. Michaud of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and his colleagues, was disclosed at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Meeting.
Two previous studies have already reported positive associations between gum disease or periodontitis (inflammation of the gums around the teeth) and other chronic diseases.
Dr. Michaud's team is investigating the relationship between lifestyles and cancer. A total of 216 men who developed pancreatic cancer were studied. After clearing out factors like smoking, diabetes, obesity, physical activity, diet etc, men with a history of gum disease were found to have a 63-percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer as compared to men without periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease may boost the risk of pancreatic cancer through 'plausible mechanisms,' Michaud points out.
Gum disease results in chronic inflammation over many years, they explain, and people with gum disease harbor high levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth and gut and tend to have higher amounts of cancer-causing nitrosamines.