Bacteria associated with the most common cause of tooth loss in adults could be a pre-curser for the development of bowel cancer, according to a team of scientists. 

Health on Female First

Health on Female First

The link comes as scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institure in America found an abnormally large number of Fusobacterium, a bacterium associated with the development of gum diseas, in nine colorectal tumour samples, pointing to the possibility the two could be associated. 

Bowel cancer, also known as colon cancer, is one of the top three deadly cancers in the UK. Around 35,000 people get diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and around half of them die.

Although lead author Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, co-director of the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at Dana-Farber and a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School believes further research is needed to discover the extent of the link, the research suggests the bacterium could be a factor in the development of cancer.

Dr Meyerson stated: “At this point, we don't know what the connection between Fusobacterium and colon cancer might be. It may be that the bacterium is essential for cancer growth, or that cancer simply provides a hospitable environment for the bacterium. Further research is needed to see what the link is.”

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, believes the research further highlights the importance of good oral health.

Dr Carter said: “This research, although at an early stage, is more evidence of the systemic links between oral and overall health. Everyone sufferers from gum disease at some point in their lives, which could potentially endanger thousands of people if they persist in neglecting their oral health.

“If you have swollen gums that bleed regularly when brushing, bad breath, loose teeth or regular mouth infections appear, it is likely you have gum disease. To avoid further deterioration in your oral health, visit your dentist for a thorough check-up and clean.”

The research, presented in Genome Research made the discovery by sequencing the DNA within nine samples of normal colon tissue and nine of colorectal cancer tissue, and validated by sequencing 95 paired DNA samples from normal colon tissue and colon cancer tissue. Analysis of the data turned up unusually large amounts of Fusobacterium's signature DNA in the tumor tissue.

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