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Does gum disease speed up pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cells

Gum disease may accelerate the development of pancreatic cancer, a new study in mice has shown, suggesting a direct link between oral health and the onset of this type of cancer.

Research at EARA member The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, investigated the potential of Porphyromonas gingivalis – a type of bacteria found in the mouth that can cause gum disease – in driving the most common pancreatic cancer (PDAC).

P. gingivalis has previously been linked to PDAC development, and when the bacteria were given orally to genetically engineered mice that were predisposed to the disease, the team saw there was a faster progression of the cancer.

In addition, in these mice, P. gingivalis was able to better survive inside cells and also aided the survival of cancer cells.

Meanwhile, in healthy mice, applying P. gingivalis to the gums resulted in the bacteria moving to the pancreas, and prolonged exposure to the bacteria changed the natural bacterial composition of the pancreas.

Lead researcher Prof. Gabriel Nussbaum said: “By exploring the role of bacteria like P. gingivalis, we’re not only shedding light on potential risk factors but also uncovering new avenues for intervention and treatment.”


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