Brush and floss at least once a day – you hear this mantra from your dentist. Not many people follow this advice. In fact, according to 2014 survey results from Delta Dental (“Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey”) and cited by the American Dental Association (ADA), about seven out of 10 Americans brush their teeth at least twice a day, so more than 30 percent aren’t brushing enough. Additionally, only four out of 10 floss at least once a day while 20 percent never floss; the survey also showed that there was a positive relationship between daily flossing and good oral health.
But there’s another really strong reason to ensure you brush and floss daily, beyond sporting a winning smile: poor oral health leads to overgrowth of bacteria residing in the mouth and that have been linked to oral cancer, colorectal cancer and diabetes. It has been known for several years now that poor oral hygiene also leads to heart disease.
Now, new research published in Cancer Research has added another potentially fatal development from poor oral hygiene: bacteria may also increase risk of developing esophageal cancer.
In the study, researchers took samples of oral bacteria found in more than 120,000 people and ran a DNA analysis to identify all the species that were there. Then, over a 10-year period, they waited to see if anyone would get esophageal cancer; 106 people eventually did.
A few types of bacteria seemed to be more strongly linked with higher or lower risks of esophageal cancer, the authors found. People who had higher levels of Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis had a higher risk of cancer. Specifically, Tannerella was linked with a 21 percent increased risk; other researchers had previously found high levels of Porphyromonas in esophageal tumors. However, the study did not show a direct causative or mechanistic link between these bacteria and esophageal cancer. These bacteria can cause gum disease and although the findings seem indicative of their presence as a risk factor, that has yet to be determined, the researchers say.
Esophageal cancer is not that common; only about one percent of all cancers diagnosed each year is in the esophagus. And according to the American Cancer Society, those who do get it tend to have a grim outlook – less than one in five people with esophageal cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis.
We at Herbsea believe in promoting healthy habits, and these include not smoking, which is another risk factor for esophageal cancer. Taking supplements rich in antioxidants, such as Fucosea, is also a good habit – along with brushing and flossing daily!
Peters, et al. “Oral Microbiome Composition Reflects Prospective Risk for Esophageal Cancers” Cancer Research 2017 Dec. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1296