Research Shows Possible Link between Bowel Cancer and Gum Disease

Published:February 15th, 2012

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Gum disease has already been linked to a number of serious conditions, and now research has shown it may also be associated with bowel cancer. It’s thought bacterium usually associated with gum disease could prove to be a precursor in the development of bowel cancer. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Brought Institute in the US found abnormally large amounts of fusobacterium which is a bacterium usually associated with the development of gum disease in several colorectal tumour samples raising the possibility that the two could be linked.

Bowel cancer is also called colon cancer and is one of the top three most deadly cancers in Britain. Every year around 35,000 people are diagnosed with this condition and unfortunately half of them will not recover.

The lead author on this latest study, Matthew Meyerson, who is co-director of the Centre for Cancer Genome Discovery at Dana-Farber, and also a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School points out that more research is needed to discover the exact nature of the connection between these two diseases. At the moment it’s not known if the cancer simply provides the right conditions for this bacterium to thrive or whether it’s essential for the cancer to grow.

Whatever the reason it’s just yet more evidence as to the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth for the sake of overall health. It’s what’s called an oral systemic connection, and quite often some of the earliest signs of diseases can show up in the teeth and gums and tongue long before any other symptoms in the rest of the body.

Avoiding the Risk of Gum Disease
Gum disease is unfortunately something just about everyone will suffer from at some stage during their lives, but the degree of severity does depend on how it is managed. Gum disease can create inflammation around the teeth and gum line and can result in bone loss, and once it is present it very difficult to get rid of it completely. The best way to manage it is to be vigilant over your oral health and to make sure you clean your teeth properly twice a day every day and floss once a day without fail.

Although most people can manage to clean their teeth twice a day, many find it difficult to floss regularly, especially as it can sometimes be quite tricky to manipulate the floss. If this is something you struggle with then ask your hygienist for some tips on how to floss correctly, and if you really can’t get the hang of it then think about purchasing a water flosser; it’s also a lot more friendly to use than floss. This squirts water which is under pressure into the gaps in between your teeth and gums and is pretty effective at removing particles of food. If you’re still tempted to skimp on the flossing then remember that gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in the world, not to mention the effect it can have on the rest of your body.


About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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