According to a new study, the damage that bad bacteria do isn’t limited to “dental” issues — because some of the same pathogens that wreak havoc on your gums can also up your risk of oesophageal cancer.
You brush, you floss, and you swish mouthwash around like a good soldier. You want to keep your teeth as long as you can… and keep those pearly whites sparkling and your breath minty fresh.
But it may surprise you that no matter how much cleaning you do in there, your mouth is constantly full of bacteria! Just like your gut, your mouth play host to a whole community of bacteria. And just like your gut, some of them in there are beneficial… and others… not so much.
In this latest study, researchers collected samples of mouth bacteria from 120,000 cancer-free older adults and then followed them for 10 years.
By the end of the study, it turned out that those whose mouths had the bacteria Tannarella forsythia — commonly linked to gum disease — at the start of the study were 21 per cent more likely to develop oesophageal cancer.
But not all of the mouth bacteria analyzed in the study were bad news. In fact, the study found that two beneficial strains — Streptococcus and Neisseria — actually had protective effects against oesophageal cancer.
Participants with these two good guys in their mouths at the start of the study were 24 per cent less likely to develop oesophageal cancer.
Now, the study didn’t figure out how bacteria in your mouth can interact with your oesophagus, but it’s entirely possible that these bugs can “migrate” south to other parts of your digestive tract.
In fact, previous studies have shown that having bad bacteria in your mouth can increase your risk of colon cancer.
And the danger doesn’t end there — because infected gums have also been linked to everything from heart disease to diabetes to pancreatic cancer.
While regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can help stave off gum disease, even the best dental care may not be enough to promote an ideal balance of bacteria in your mouth.
Laying off cigarettes and booze… eating a healthy diet… and resolving gastric reflux can all improve your mouth’s bacterial makeup for the better.
And studies have shown that taking probiotics can help balance the “microbiome” in your mouth as well as your gut.
Chewing gum sweetened only with xylitol — which is derived from plant fiber — after meals can also reduce your levels of harmful mouth bacteria and keep them from sticking to your teeth.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Researchers find bacteria tied to esophageal cancer, published online, medicalxpress.com/news/2017-11-bacteria-tied-esophageal-cancer.html