Pancreatic Cancer and Gum Disease
Effects of Gum (Periodontal) Disease on Pancreatic Cancer
Gum disease has now been directly associated with pancreatic cancer. The evidence of the harmful relationship of gum disease to overall health keeps building and building. With each study that connects gum disease to a serious health issue, such as pancreatic cancer, heart disease and diabetes, we must realize that gum disease can no longer be considered a minor disease of the teeth and gums. Not when pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States.
A recent study by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has linked periodontal (gum) disease to pancreatic cancer. The study showed that after eliminating all risk factors for pancreatic cancer, such as age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, etc., those with periodontal (gum) disease were 63% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who didn’t have periodontal disease. This is a significant statistical probability and cannot be dismissed.
One explanation is that elevated levels of C-reactive protein, along with other indicators of inflammation could promote the growth of cancer cells. This and the fact that increased levels of oral bacteria and carcinogens (cancer promoting substances) that are more prevalent in those with gum disease. According to Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health agree that while these findings are important, more studies need to be done to confirm the results of this study.
Source: hsph.harvard.edu?press/release01162007B.html, January 16, 2007
Dr. Tom's Comment
In the scientific world more studies will always need to be done, to confirm the study that confirmed the previous study. I applaud these efforts but it is very clear that there is an unbreakable link between periodontal (gum) disease and just about every health issue we will have to deal with. My evaluation of the existing research is that this is because of the tremendous stress gum disease places on the immune system. Anytime the immune system is stressed its ability to resist and fight off other diseases is severely compromised.
This is much easier to understand once you realize that gum disease takes place 24 hours a day, 7 days a year, for as long as it is present. There is no rest for the immune system when it is dealing with gum disease. Over time the immune system is so weakened that it can no longer resist other diseases, toxins and health problems. The evidence seems clear to me, if the body didn’t have to deal with gum disease it would, in a high percentage of cases, be much better able to prevent, or deal with, pancreatic cancer and the other health issues related to gum disease.
So what is the message? No one can afford to think that gum disease is an isolated problem of the gums, teeth and oral cavity. Gum disease is truly a disease of the body and unless it is seen and treated as a serious disease of the body it will continue to contribute to major health problems and shorten your life-expectancy!