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Diseased gums and esophageal cancer

 Are your gums sick? You could be at an increased risk for esophageal cancer.

Diseased gums and esophageal cancer

More and more studies are linking periodontal disease to cancer. For example, it has been confirmed that almost two-thirds of patients with esophageal cancer have a characteristic periodontal pathogen. 

The esophagus is a critical muscular tube in the passage of food from the oral cavity to the stomach.
The oral cavity of the stomach has two main cell types implicated in the two main types of esophageal cancer: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

It is thought that the connection between diseased gums and esophageal cancer may derive from the systemic inflammation that occurs in response to periodontitis, which causes an increase in different inflammatory proteins, which are often also linked to the complex alterations that occur in the development of cancer.
Researchers at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry (USA) have found a periodontopathogenic bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in 61% of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Specifically, they have determined that an enzyme specific to this pathogen and traces of its DNA could be found in the cancerous tissue but not in the healthy esophageal tissue of control patients.

This finding suggests two possible explanations: either esophageal cancer cells are a preferred niche for the pathogen to multiply, or Porphyromonas gingivalis facilitates the development of esophageal cancer. In the latter case, the future implications could be enormous. However, many studies are still needed to reproduce these results and understand the natural connection between this periodontal pathogen and esophageal cancer. Even so, the study's limitations must be considered, and we must maintain sight of the need for further solid scientific research to support the results.