Saturday, 17 February 2018

Study Linking pancreatic cancer to oral health

It is now a known and accepted fact that an oral/systemic health link exists and that heart disease, diabetes and yes, even cancer, are related to the condition of one’s mouth!
In a small study recently published online in the journal GUT, the researchers suggest that levels of particular types of bacteria, some of which are found in gum disease, can be linked to the development of pancreatic cancer.
The researchers compared bacteria found in saliva of 10 pancreatic cancer patients whose cancer had not yet spread, with 10 healthy people and all participants were matched for age and sex.
They found that the cancer group had 31 additional species and 25 fewer species of bacteria in their saliva compared to the healthy group. The findings were verified by conducting the same study on 28 new participants in each group.
The researchers then went on to study samples from patients who had chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which is linked to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. They discovered that among six suspicious species, two – Neisseria elongata and Streptococcus mitis – showed up substantially less often in the mouths of cancer patients while levels of another species – Granulicatella adjacens – were substantially higher!While it is unclear whether the presence of these specific bacteria are the cause or the effect of pancreatic cancer, the researchers conclude by suggesting that monitoring levels of these bacteria could be used as a non-invasive and credible screen for pancreatic cancer.


Xerostomia, commonly called dry mouth, is a condition of oral dryness. In many, but not all cases, it is caused by reduced or absent saliva flow due to impaired salivary gland function. While oral dryness may not sound serious, xerostomia can in fact be a contributing factor in a number of oral health problems, including increased risk of plaque, tooth demineralization, dental caries, dental erosion, oral yeast infections, and ulcers of the tongue.

Common Causes of XerostomiaMedications/Medical Treatments:
commonly prescribed drugs can cause xerostomia.Some medications—such as sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines, opiates, antipsychotics, anti-Parkinson agents, and antianxiety agents—interfere with the function of salivary gland receptors, reducing salivary production and volume.
Others, such as antihypertensives and diuretics, interfere with the body's salt, water, and electrolyte balance. This changes the composition of saliva so it contains less of the lubricating agent mucin, as well as low concentrations of ions needed in remineralization. Polypharmacy—taking multiple medications everyday—has also been associated with dry mouth, with the risk being the highest when more than three different drugs are taken daily.Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, or radiotherapy to the head and neck, can also cause dry mouth if the treatment has affected salivary glands. Sometimes affected salivary glands maintain some functional ability, but sometimes cancer treatments can destroy them completely.

Systemic Diseases and Other Health Conditions:A number of systemic diseases have been linked to impairments in saliva secretion or compositional changes in saliva. These include autoimmune diseases such as Sjögren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroiditis, and systemic lupus erythematosus; chronic infections such as hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); and hormonal conditions such as diabetes or menopause.Other conditions that have been implicated in dry mouth include eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa; neurological disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, Bell's palsy, or cerebral palsy; and local salivary diseases such as salivary gland cancer, salivary duct stones, or salivary gland infections. Chronic use of alcohol and other drugs, such as cannabis and methamphetamines, have also been linked to xerostomia.

Who Is Most at Risk?The elderly tend to be most at risk for dry mouth. This isn't because age itself causes the condition, but rather because this age group is more likely to have systemic diseases and health conditions linked to xerostomia. The elderly are also more likely to be taking medications, and engaged in polypharmacy.
Particular attention should also be paid to women between the ages of 40 and 60, since they are undergoing hormonal changes as they transition to menopause that affect salivary gland function, inducing dry mouth.10 This group is also most at risk for the autoimmune condition Sjögren's syndrome (SS), the most common disease that causes xerostomia. In SS, the body's immune system attacks secretory glands (such as the salivary glands and tear glands), so they lose their ability to produce sufficient lubricating fluid. This causes dryness of all mucosal linings of the body, including the mouth, eyes, and digestive tract.
Medications to Help Patients Manage Dry Mouth:While the ideal scenario is one in which you could help a patient identify the underlying cause of dry mouth and take steps to minimize the cause, this may not always be possible. In addition to helping patients manage their symptoms with the tips recommended above, some may benefit from medications that substitute saliva or increase salivary flow.
Over-the-counter saliva substitutes are products that mimic saliva to replace moisture, and make the mouth feel more lubricated. Many are also formulated to supply calcium, phosphate, and fluoride ions, to counteract the demineralization and increased caries risk that accompanies dry mouth. Studies have found that they also help decrease plaque levels, and reduce gingivitis and oral yeast infection risk. These come in the form of sprays, lozenges, or mouthwashes.Another type of medication that may help some patients with dry mouth—depending on if their salivary glands are still able to function—is a salivary stimulant. These include over-the-counter lozenges and tablets; and prescription medications, such as pilocarpine and cevimeline, which activate the receptors to increase saliva production.

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