Smoking. Family history. Having a history of pancreatitis. Being prediabetic (biggie!). All help to cause pancreatic cancer. But this one’s going to surprise you.
Chronic inflammation is never good for anything related to health. Heart disease? Probably THE major player. Osteoporosis? Sucks bones dry. Alzheimer’s dementia? Destroys brain cells. But what about cancer?
Even here inflammation plays a role. Anything that keeps the flame of inflammation alive will increase your risk of cancer, and the two organ systems most responsible are the gut and the mouth. While bacteria hover and hide in almost every nook and cranny of your body, the alimentary tract is nice and warm and dark. The perfect breeding ground for many types of bacteria. We just need to make sure that the bacteria growing in these crannies are the ones we want growing in the crannies. This is where things like avoiding antibiotics and the use of probiotics become important.
This particular study illuminates just how strong the link is between chronic inflammation in the mouth and your risk of pancreatic cancer. Specifically, they look at antibodies against the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria commonly associated with periodontal disease. Here’s what they found:
- Those who had higher levels of antibodies to P gingivalis had more than double the risk of pancreatic cancer (214% to be exact).
- On the flip side, in those who had higher levels of antibodies against oral bacteria that do NOT cause periodontal disease (the friendlier ones) had a 45% lower risk of pancreatic cancer.
Clearly there is a deadly link here between poor oral health and yet another cause of pancreatic cancer. As I’ve noted in prior posts, pancreatic cancer is one of the worst cancers out there with a dismal survival rate. Of all the cancers where “prevention is better than a cure,” pancreatic cancer is the poster child.
How can you prevent pancreatic cancer via good oral health? Here’s a few tips:
- Of course, visit a dentist regularly.
- Overall healthy lifestyle choices will reflect on good gum and oral health.
- Make sure you use a tongue scraper several times per week.
- Brush using a high quality toothbrush and floss daily.
- Use a xylitol based chewing gum with NO artificial sweeteners.
These really aren’t tough choices, but can go a long way towards avoiding a situation that is now known to cause pancreatic cancer.