May 16, 2016 – Mouth and Pancreas


Anchor lead: Can bacteria in your mouth be related to pancreas cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Types of bacteria associated with gum inflammation, known as gingivitis, also increase the risk for developing pancreas cancer, a recent study shows.  Alison Klein, a pancreas cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, says the study was unique in looking at bacteria directly.

Klein: This study looked at mouth flora, so particularly gingivitis, so not antibodies in blood to the bacteria but the bacteria themselves. And found that these bacteria were associated with an increased risk of pancreas cancer, on the order of fifty to seventy-five percent increased risk.   :17

Klein says the exact mechanism by which oral bacteria are associated with the risk for pancreas cancer is unclear.

Klein: Showing that these bacteria in the mouth are associated with pancreas cancer risk, this risk can either be that these bacteria cause pancreatic cancer, or that they somehow are a measure of kind of overall health, or overall immune response.   :13

Klein says this study builds on previous research showing that tooth loss is also associated with an increased risk for pancreas cancer. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.