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Bacteria in Mouth Tied to Esophageal Cancer

Bacteria in Mouth Tied to Esophageal Cancer
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By    |   Friday, 01 December 2017 12:02 PM

Bacteria in your mouth may either raise or lower your risk for esophageal cancer, according to a study conducted at NYU Langone Health's Perlmutter Cancer Center.

Researchers analyzed data from two national studies involving more than 120,000 patients. They found that the presence of a bacteria called Tannerella forsythia that's commonly linked to gum disease, increased the risk of esophageal cancer by 21 percent.

In contrast, two types of bacteria — Streptococcus and Neisseria — were associated with as much as a 24 percent decrease in risk. Neisseria are known to break down the toxins in tobacco smoke, and smokers are known to have lower amounts of these bacteria in their mouths than nonsmokers.

The mouth's overall bacterial make-up, which can be changed by smoking, heavy drinking, diet, gum disease, or gastric reflux, has long been thought to influence risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, say the researchers. But the new study, which monitored healthy patients for as long as 10 years, is the first to identify which among nearly 300 kinds of bacteria commonly found in the mouth are statistically linked to the risk of getting either of the two most common forms of the disease.

"Our study brings us much closer to identifying the underlying causes of these cancers because we now know that at least in some cases disease appears consistently linked to the presence of specific bacteria in the upper digestive tract," says study senior investigator and epidemiologist Jiyoung Ahn, Ph.D.

"Conversely, we have more evidence that the absence or loss of other bacteria in the mouth may lead to these cancers, or to gut diseases that trigger these cancers," said Ahn.

All study participants were between the ages of 50 and 75, and were considered healthy and cancer free when they enrolled in either study and had the bacteria in their mouths sampled.

Among study participants, 106 developed esophageal cancer. The bacteria in the mouth of each of these patients at the beginning of these studies were compared to those of another study participant of similar age, sex, and race who remained cancer free.

Ahn says the latest findings may lead to guidelines to help physicians in the risk assessment and early detection of esophageal cancers. "Early diagnosis could really help because esophageal cancers are often diagnosed in the later stages when the disease is harder to treat," says Ahn.

Next, the team plans to study whether use of probiotic pill supplements could be used to alter the oral microbiome and possibly decrease cancer risk.

Cancer of the esophagus is one of the top 10 causes cancer deaths in the United States. It kills about 13,000 people each year, mostly men.

A 2016 study also conducted by Ahn found that two types of bacteria that cause gum disease are also linked to pancreatic cancer. Researchers found that men and women whose oral microbiomes included Porphyromonas gingivalis had a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer over the next 10 years than those whose microbiomes did not contain the bacterium. Similarly, oral microbiomes containing Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans were at least 50 percent more likely overall to develop the disease.

Another study, this one from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, suggested a link between bacteria in the mouth and esophageal cancer. They found the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis in 61 percent of patients with a form of cancer called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma or ESCC. The bacteria were not found in healthy esophageal tissue.

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Bacteria in your mouth may either raise or lower your risk for esophageal cancer, according to a study conducted at NYU Langone Health's Perlmutter Cancer Center. Researchers analyzed data from two national studies involving more than 120,000 patients. They found that the...
bacteria, mouth, esophageal, cancer
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2017-02-01
Friday, 01 December 2017 12:02 PM
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