Wednesday, October 12, 2011
New Study Linked Mouth Bacteria to Pancreatic Cancer
It is hoped a swab could help detect pancreatic cancer
Researchers say they cannot be sure whether the bacteria cause the deadly cancer or are a consequence of the disease.
The scientists from the University of California in Los Angeles are now investigating whether a simple mouth swab could be used to screen for pancreatic cancer.
Most cases are currently picked up at an advanced stage. Around 80% of people die within a year of diagnosis.
The study showed the cancer patients were more likely than healthy people to carry a bacteria called granulicatella adiacens in their saliva.
But they were less likely to have two other species, neisseria elongata and streptococcus mitis.
:: Pancreatic cancer is the UK's 11th most common cancer.
:: 7,600 people are diagnosed with the disease each year.
80% of patients are over the age of 60.
The causes are not fully known but smoking and diabetes are thought to be linked.
The study, reported in the journal Gut, involved just 20 people. But British scientists say the findings are significant.
Dr Adam P Roberts, a microbiologist at the Eastman Dental Institute in London, said there is growing evidence that bacteria in the mouth can have effects elsewhere in the body.
He said: "The possibility of being able to spit in a tube and screen this for certain bacteria and be able to predict cancers, and other systemic disease, is a really attractive proposition and would result in their early detection which is better for patients and would inevitably save lives."
The mouth is naturally home to more than 700 bacteria species.
Previous research has shown people with gum disease are more likely to have some forms of heart disease.