A study which involved a sample of 120,000 individuals has identified that two different forms of bacteria which cause gum disease may increase the risk of an individual developing Esophageal Cancer. The study analysed the microbes from the mouths of the sample.

An NYU Langone Health, Perlmutter Cancer Centre study in New York, USA has also found the exact opposite, in that some forms of bacteria may also reduce the risk of developing Esophageal Cancer.

Researchers as part of the journal for cancer research, ruled out effects from smoking, alcohol and BMI when it came to drawing conclusions from the data. A leading researcher, Jiyoung Ahn, of the New York University suggests that the findings from the study take our society closer in identifying the causes of Esophageal Cancer.

Ahn states that this is because “cases have been known of Esophageal Cancer in which strains of bacteria are found in the upper digestive tract”.

Esophageal Cancer Prevention Needs to be Addressed

Esophageal Cancer begins in the cells of the esophagus, a pipe of muscular tissue that transports the food and water from the mouth into the stomach.

The disease represents 1% of all cancer cases in the United States, in which every year, 16,940 individuals are diagnosed with it and consequently, 15,690 die from it. The cancer is more prevalent in men than in women.

The esophagus hosts two types of cell and therefore, two types of cancer: Esophageal Adenocarcinoma (EAC) and Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (ESCC). The study looked at both EAC and ESCC.

Ahn mentions that this type of cancer is often fatal and that there is a great need in the analysis of preventing this condition.

Connection Established Between Microbiota and Cancer

Hundreds of strains of bacteria take refuge in the human mouth as well as single-celled organisms. These oral microbiota occupy different areas, such as the mouth, gums or teeth.

Habits affect the formation of oral microbiota. These habits can include smoking, heavy alcohol consumption or diet. Evidence from studies has even found that some types of microbiota that cause gum disease are also linked to cancer of the head or neck. In seniors, acid reflux (separate to the bacteria found in this study) may also increase the risk of developing head or neck
cancer.

Ahn and colleagues each share the consensus that oral microbiota increases the risk of developing EAC or ESCC. However, the new Esophageal Cancer research study which followed healthy patients for over ten years, is the first to identify the specific strains of bacteria which increase the risk of developing EAC or ESCC.

Specific Bacteria Increases Esophageal Cancer Risk

The team who carried out this study analysed the microbiota in oral samples taken from the 122,000 individuals who were involved in its sample. The individuals were monitored for ten years and those who developed Esophageal Cancer taken note of.

The same team compared the genetic data of mouth microbiota of the individuals who developed Esophageal Cancer with samples from participants who did not develop the disease. It was found that Tannerella forsythia was associated with high risk of EAC and that Porphyromonas gingivalis was associated with high risk of ESCC.

The study revealed, interestingly, that two strains of bacteria: Streptococcus and Neisseria are associated with a lower risk of Esophageal Cancer.

Neisseria, for interest, has an essential role in the breakdown of substances which are known to be toxic.

Ultimately, the study which looked at 122,000 individuals has been able to identify two strains of microbiota (bacteria which form in different areas of the mouth), which are linked to the development of two types of Esophageal Cancer: EAC and ESCC. The study has also found two types which lower the risk of Esophageal Cancer developing. Medical Discoveries 2017 are uncovering new and important scientific findings, which may contribute to the much needed development of prevention strategies for Esophageal Cancer.

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Source: Medical News Today