Periodontal Disease And Pancreatic Cancer Linked
"Our study provides the first strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This finding is of significance as it may provide some new insights into the mechanism of this highly fatal disease," said lead author Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at HSPH.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums that over time causes loss of bone that supports the teeth; tooth loss is a consequence of severe periodontal disease. Two previous studies had found a link between tooth loss or periodontitis and pancreatic cancer, but one consisted of all smokers and the other did not control for smoking in the analysis, and therefore no firm conclusions could be drawn from these studies.
Data for the new study came from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986 and includes 51,529 U.S. men working in the health professions. Participants respond to questionnaires about their health every two years. After analyzing the data, the researchers confirmed 216 cases of pancreatic cancer between 1986 and 2002; of those, 67 reported periodontal disease.
The results showed that, after adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, body mass index and a number of other factors, men with periodontal disease had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those reporting no periodontal disease. "Most convincing was our finding that never-smokers had a two-fold increase in risk of pancreatic cancer," said Michaud.
One possible explanation for the results is that inflammation from periodontal disease may promote cancer of the pancreas. "Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, and these may somehow contribute to the promotion of cancer cells," she said.
Another explanation, according to Michaud, is that periodontal disease could lead to increased pancreatic carcinogenesis because individuals with periodontal disease have higher levels of oral bacteria and higher levels of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens, in their oral cavity. Prior studies have shown that nitrosamines and gastric acidity may play a role in pancreatic cancer.
Michaud, senior author Charles Fuchs, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Dana-Farber, and their colleagues believe that further studies should be done to investigate the role of inflammation from periodontal disease in pancreatic cancer. However, Michaud notes that the underlying mechanisms for this association are speculative at this point. "More research is needed both to confirm this finding in other populations and also to explore the role of inflammation in this particular cancer," she said.
This study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute.
"A Prospective Study of Periodontal Disease and Pancreatic Cancer in U.S. Male Health Professionals," Dominique S. Michaud, Kaumudi Joshipura, Edward Giovannucci, Charles S. Fuchs, JNCI, 2007; 99:1-5
Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 300 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 900-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/
Contact: Todd Datz
There are no references listed for this article.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Datz, Todd. "Periodontal Disease And Pancreatic Cancer Linked." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 19 Jan. 2007. Web.
23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/60977.php>
Datz, T. (2007, January 19). "Periodontal Disease And Pancreatic Cancer Linked." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
Contact our news editors
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please see our contact page.
Copyright Medical News Today: Excluding email/sharing services explicitly offered on this website, material published on Medical News Today may not be reproduced, or distributed without the prior written permission of Medilexicon International Ltd. Please contact us for further details.