Bacterial infection may play a role in the development of pancreatic cancer, according to a review of several recent studies.

A growing amount of research has found links between infections – primarily of the gums and stomach – and pancreatic cancer, a particularly deadly form of the disease that the American Cancer Society estimates will kill over 38,000 people in the U.S. in 2013. In the view of many oncologists, pancreatic cancer ranks as the worst form of the disease an individual can develop, as it possess the highest mortality rate of any cancer – 96 percent.

Despite the extremely fatal nature of pancreatic cancer, researchers cannot fully explain the major causes of the disease. Known major risk factors for the disease only account for less than 40 percent of all cases. Known risk factors for pancreatic cancer include type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, and chronic pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. The results of this latest study now suggest, however, that bacterial infection may be one of the leading causes of the disease.

The results of this study were published online in the journal Carcinogenesis.

Cancer Linked to Infections

According to researchers at Brown University that led this study, two specific bacterial infection have shown strong links to pancreatic cancer in recent studies.

Research suggests that individuals who suffer from an infection of Helicobacter pylori – a type of bacteria that has been linked to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer – and Porphyrmomonas gingivalis – an infection caused by poor oral hygiene and gum disease – may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Researchers have a number of theories to explain the connection between these types of infection and the development of pancreatic cancer. One of the most prominent is that these type of infections cause inflammation throughout the body, which is known to play a role in the development of the disease.

Another theory suggests that these type of bacterial infections cause changes to occur in the body’s immune system. When the immune system becomes weakened or altered by infection, it doesn’t function as well defending the body against cancer.

Furthermore, risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer, such as diabetes, smoking, and obesity, may also help to suppress the immune system and place an individual at higher risk of infection. These same risk factors for pancreatic cancer are also risk factors for the development of gum disease.

Other theories speculate that bacterial infections may cause the activation of pancreatic tumor signaling pathways, which help promote the growth of new blood cells that tumors need to grow. Another suggests that infections activate pancreatic cancer pathways that set off an immune response in the tissue surrounding a cancerous growth, but not in the tumor itself.

Improved Understanding

The concept that some types of bacterial infections can cause certain cancers to develop is not a new idea. Researchers have examining this connection for the last decade, and have seen evidence of this connection in solid tumors and blood cancers.

For patients that need the best dental implants Milwaukie Oregon has, this study helps to underscore the importance of maintaining and improving your oral health by brushing and flossing regularly. These daily oral hygiene habits rank as the best ways of preventing the development of gum disease, and therefore can help to potentially reduce your risk of not only developing cancer, but such chronic health conditions as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.