March 13th, 2019
Researchers in America have established a link between a form of common oral bacteria and the acceleration of colon cancer.
A team from the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University found that a common strain of oral bacteria, which is linked to tooth decay, can also contribute to colon cancer progression. F.nucleatum, which is often found in dental plaque, could play an instrumental role in the pace of colon cancer growth. Colon cancer is currently the second deadliest form of cancer in the US.
Yiping H Wan, study leader and professor of microbial sciences, explained that genetic mutations play a significant role in the development and spread of cancerous cells, but there are other factors to consider, including the presence of microbes. Scientists discovered that around a third of colon cancer cases are associated with the strain, and those were found to be more aggressive than others, but until now, it was not known why this was the case.
In a previous study, Han and his team discovered that the bacterium produced a molecule known as FadA adhesion, which was found to stimulate growth in cancerous cells, but not in healthy tissue. Prof Han wanted to build on the findings of that study and determine why F.nucleatum only triggered growth in cancerous cells. The most recent study focused on this interaction, and researchers found that non-cancerous cells lack a protein called Annexin A1, which stimulates growth. Using in-vitro trials, which were followed by trials involving mice, they determined that prohibiting Annexin 1 function prevented F.nucleatum from binding to cancerous cells. Subsequently, this slowed growth.
In light of their findings, Prof Han and the team are now looking for ways to use Annexin 1 as a biomarker for advanced, aggressive cancers and to utilise the study as a base for developing potential treatment options.
June 13th, 2018
Recently, a group of high-profile dental organisations called for the government to consider rolling out the HPV vaccination programme to include teenage boys, as well as girls. The vaccine, which is currently provided for girls as they enter their teenage years to protect against cervical cancer, is the subject of debate after a committee turned down the option to expand the reach of the programme on the grounds that it wasn’t cost-effective to vaccinate boys.
The British Dental Association has joined forces with the Faculty of General Dental Practice and the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons to urge the Department of Health and Social Care to reconsider plans to introduce vaccinations for boys. HPV is known to increase the risk of more than 20 forms of cancer, including oral cancer, a type of cancer that has become much more prevalent in the UK in the last decade.
Dr Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said that cancers that affect the mouth and throat have a devastating impact on quality of life, and added that dentists are frustrated by the fact that many cases of mouth cancer could be prevented. Dentists are often first to spot potential warning signs, and the BDA believes that introducing HPV vaccines for boys could see the number of cases fall in years to come. In the UK, the number of people diagnosed with oral cancer has increased by around a third in the last ten years. Dr Armstrong suggested that it was both unfair and illogical to protect half of the population and leave the other half exposed.
In light of the growing prevalence of mouth cancer, the organisations have urged the government to think about rolling out the vaccination programme to include boys and prioritise saving lives over saving money.
March 28th, 2018
Most people know that taking a trip to the dentist every 6-12 months can keep decay and gum disease at bay, but did you know that dental checks can save your life? It may seem a little dramatic to suggest that five minutes in the chair could make the difference between life and death, but dentists are trained to identify much graver signs than cavities and swollen gums.
Dentists undertake advanced training to enable them to identify warning signs of many different health conditions. Research suggests that there is a strong link between oral and general health and often, dental symptoms can indicate an elevated risk of potentially life-threatening illnesses. Common signs of gum disease, including swollen gums and loose teeth, can also be linked to heart disease. Scientists believe that harmful bacteria associated with advanced gum disease can travel from the mouth to other parts of the body, increasing the risk of an inflammatory response, which could trigger heart attacks and strokes.
Another important reason to visit the dentist is to check for early warning signs of oral cancer. Mouth cancer, a type of cancer that has become much more common in the UK in the last decade, is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Dentists are trained to identify early signs. Regular checks can ensure that cases are diagnosed when the chances of successful treatment are at their highest.
Dentists are also well-versed in the link between diabetes and dental health, and in some cases, they may be able to spot potential symptoms before a patient has been diagnosed with diabetes. Studies show that people who have diabetes are more prone to oral health issues, but there is also a suggestion that poor oral health can increase the risk of diabetes.