Could Oral Bacteria Be an Indication of Your Risk for Cancer?

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by Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD

Cancer is a disease that occurs in the body when the cells divide abnormally and begin to spread intoDr. Jonathan Richter DDS, FAGD the surrounding tissue. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells based on what the body needs. When the cells grow old or become damaged, they die and new cells take their place. When cancer develops, this orderly process breaks down—cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, while new cells form when they’re not needed. The extra cells continue to divide without stopping, and, as a result, growths called tumors are formed.

What causes a cell to grow old or become damaged you might ask? Genetics play a part, but when considering the fundamental root of cancer—cells not following their lifecycle protocol—it is obvious that external factors, such as our environment, food, stress, etc., would be contributing factors. We are exposed to toxins in our air, water, products and food; our contemporary sciences have infiltrated the normal “programming” of nature with GMOs and other Frankenstein-like creations to ensure bountiful harvests and hearty produce. These and many other circumstances affect our cells.

Recently, a new study in the journal Gut revealed that pancreatic cancer might be associated with the amount of oral bacteria in the mouth. In the study, more than 800 European adults found that the more infectious periodontal bacterium strains, Porphyromonas gingivalis, were associated with a two-fold risk for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year in the United States, is very difficult to detect, and kills most patients within six months of diagnosis. The bacteria-cancer connection is an emerging issue in science, researchers say, but the importance of this connection is growing.

In addition, subjects with high levels of antibodies for some kinds of harmless oral bacteria were associated with a 45-percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer—meaning the antibodies could have a protective effect. The body generates antibodies as a response to foreign objects, like bacteria and viruses.

Other research has identified links between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer, but Dr. Dominique Michaud’s Gut paper is the first study to test whether antibodies for oral bacteria are indicators of pancreatic cancer risk and the first to associate the immune response to harmless bacteria with pancreatic cancer risk. The physiological mechanism linking oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer remains unknown, but the study strengthens the suggestion that there is one.

Source: Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, of Cardiodontal (310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-282-0310 or visit

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