Author: Tim Sandle
Chemicals released from two bacteria that cause gum disease can incite the growth of deadly lesions and tumors in the mouth, trigger oral cancer. This is according to a new study carried out by Case Western Reserve University.
High levels of certain bacteria found in the saliva of people are associated with the risk of oral cancer. The researchers were keen to understand why most people never develop oral cancer and what it is that protects them. Their answer related to most people not carrying a certain type of bacteria in their mouths.
The cancer of concern is Kaposi’s sarcoma-related (KS) lesions and tumors in the mouth. The bacteria associated with this are the species Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum. These species are associated with gum disease.
For the research, scientists recruited 21 patients, dividing them into two groups. All participants were given standard gum-disease tests. The first group of 11 participants had an average age of 50 and had severe chronic gum disease. The second group of 10 participants, whose average age was about 26, had healthy gums. The bacteria were common to those with gum disease.
By carrying out further tests, the researchers found that the bacteria produce fatty acids and these fatty acids then allowed oral cancer causing viruses to grow. The discovery could lead to early saliva testing for the bacteria. When such bacteria are found the mouth of a patient could be treated and monitored for signs of cancer and before it develops into a malignancy.
The findings have been reported in The Journal of Virology, in a paper titled “Short Chain Fatty Acids from Periodontal Pathogens Suppress HDACs, EZH2, and SUV39H1 to Promote Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Replication.”