The researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital, Finland revealed that the bacteria that causes periodontitis is also involved in the onset of pancreatic cancer. Periodontitis is a disease that affects the soft tissues and bones surrounding the teeth. The bacteria that causes this inflammation of the tissues around teeth is responsible for development of certain cancers and cancer mortality in a given population. This study has for the first time proved that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis, Treponema denticola (Td), also influences the onset of various cancers. The research also found presence of the enzyme Td-CTLP proteinase in several malignant tumors of the gastrointestinal tract such as pancreatic cancer. Td-CTLP proteinase is the primary virulence factor of Treponema denticola bacteria. CTLP enzyme also decreases the efficiency of the immune system by inactivating enzyme inhibitors and also activates certain enzymes that help in invading healthy body tissues (pro-MMP-8 and -9).
In another study, which was recently published in the International Journal of Cancer, it was shown that in a given population, periodontitis is significantly linked with cancer mortality. Mortality due pancreatic cancer was most found among the participants of the study. Around 70,000 Finns participated in this 10-year follow-up study. Timo Sorsa, professor at the University of Helsinki, Finland, says that the studies have demonstrated the virulence factors of bacteria responsible for gum disease can spread from the mouth to several other parts of the body, along with the bacteria that is involved in cancer-related tissue destruction.
The research concluded that the low-grade inflammation during periodontitis helps the causative bacteria and its virulence factors to spread to the other body parts. Hence, the early diagnosis of periodontitis is very crucial not only in maintaining oral health but also in preventing various cancers. Sorsa points out that early diagnosis will be very cost effective in the long run to prevent various cancers, especially pancreatic cancer.