Brush Bowel Cancer Away

Regular brushing not only keeps your pearly whites smiling bright, but could help to prevent bowel cancer.

A recent US study suggests same mouth bacteria that cause bleeding gums can travel via the blood to the bowel where they could trigger cancer or worsen existing tumours.

Specifically it's the bug fusobacterium that has been found to be hundreds of times more common in cancerous tumours than in normal cells.

What's really suprising is that researchers have now found that these microbes can make pre-cancerous growths in the bowel turn cancerous, and they can even make any existing tumours in the bowel grow larger.

Scientists are currently investigating how the bacteria make their way to the gut through the bloodstream. The most popular theory is that they may take advantage of bleeding gums if present.

The researchers found that this bacteria has a protein that allows them to stick to sugar molecules attached to benign growths called polyps as well as cancer tumours in the bowel. In their publication in 'Cell Growth and Microbe' journal, reseachers say that after attaching to the polyps or tumours, these microbes seem to promote polyp and tumours growth.

Co-author Wendy Garrett, a professor at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health, said that by focusing in the binding mechanism they'll develop a greater understanding of how to stop or reduce development of cancerous tumours.

In the mouth fusobacterium microbe worsens gum disease because it acts as an ‘anchor’ around teeth and gums for other bacteria, helping to create a biofilm or ‘mat’ of different bacteria that eat away at the gums, causing inflammation, and loosening of teeth.  Keeping regular dental visits and following recommendation treatment where gum disease is detected is a great way to reduce impact of deletarious bacteria on oral and over all health.




Image modified from Sandra Haro

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