For a long time now, gum disease has mostly been linked to heart diseases. But things are about to get even worse, as the latest studies suggest that severe gum disease may lead to cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of gum disease increases with age in the United States. They found out that about 47.2% of adults of age 30 years and above have a certain type of gum disease that may lead to periodontal gum disease, this increases to 70.1% to adults of age 65 years and above.
The link between gum disease and cancer
In November 2017, researchers from Helsinki university hospital and University of Helsinki published their study in the British Journal of Cancer. They factored out a gum disease bacterium by the name Treponema Denticola as the cause of cancer. In part, It stated that gastrointestinal cancers such as pancreatic cancers shared the same enzymes as the Treponema denticola. The enzyme has the initials Td-CTLP (Treponema denticola chymotrypsin-like proteinase).
Td-CTLP, which is found in the mouth to boost the spread of gum disease, was observed in certain cancerous tumors. To get concrete evidence on how the enzyme links gum disease and the development of cancer tumors, researchers had to investigate the molecular mechanism at play.
Their investigation revealed that the Td-CTLP enzyme could activate other enzymes used by cancer cells as a vehicle to attack healthy cells. These are pro-MMP-8 and pro-MMP-9. Further, more evidence on Td-CTLP suggested that it was able to impair the response of the immune system. They do this by slowing down enzyme activities through enzyme inhibitors, letting cancer enzymes attack.
Going by the two studies, researchers concluded that inflammation caused by gum disease made it easier for harmful bacteria to travel through the body. This allowed CTLP to act as a boosting agent for cancer cells.
Everybody is encouraged to take care of their oral health. Any oral problem should be dealt with at its developing stage to prevent more severe health problems like cancer.