Gum disease has been linked to a variety of other health problems, including:
- heart disease and heart attacks
- diabetes and its control
- rheumatoid arthritis
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It's mainly caused by bacteria from plaque build-up. In some patients who are susceptible to gum disease, the body over-reacts to the bacteria around the gums and causes too much inflammation. In others, the inflammation doesn’t clear up properly. The result of the intense gum inflammation is that it also affects the bloodstream and is believed slowly to damage blood vessels in the heart and brain over a long time period.
New research connects gum disease-causing mouth bacteria to tumor growth in the colon
Now, scientists team at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine suggest that gum disease can also contribute to colorectal cancer.
The bacteria, called Fusobacterium nucleatum, can attach to colon cells and trigger a sequence of changes that can lead to colon cancer.
The researchers also found a way to prevent the bacteria from attaching to colon cells.
"This discovery creates the potential for new diagnostic tools and therapies to treat and prevent the cancer," lead investigator Yiping Han said in a university news release.
The findings show the importance of good oral health, said Han, a professor of periodontics. She noted that levels of F. nucleatum are much higher in people with gum disease.
Although the study found a possible association between oral infection and colon cancer, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The above story also uses materials from the August 14, 2013 news release by Case Western Reserve University.
The study was published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe:
Roxana Rubinstein MR, Wang X, Liu W, Hao Y, Cai G, Han YW. Fusobacterium nucleatum Promotes Colorectal Carcinogenesis by Modulating E-Cadherin/b-Catenin Signaling via its FadA Adhesin. Cell Host Microbe. 2013 August 14;14(2):195-206
The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines how to keep your teeth and mouth healthy