Brush your teeth to avoid bowel cancer
Teeth brushing may have been a chore as a child, but since reaching adulthood and realising it’s necessary for a dazzling smile and fresh breath, brushing twice a day has become the daily norm. But if you thought the results were merely aesthetic, think again. New research suggests that ridding the mouth of nasty bacteria can actually ward off bowel cancer.
Researchers looked at how bacteria makes its way into the gut through the blood stream, with bleeding gums one theory being investigated. It’s been found that bug fusobacterium (a germ) is significantly more common on cancerous tumours than normal cells. Injecting fusobacterium into the tail veins of two mouse models, with either precancerous or malignant colorectal tumors, it was found that in both fusobacteria accumulated in colorectal tumors compared to adjacent normal tissue.
It was discovered that the bacteria contains a protein allowing it to stick to sugar molecules attached to benign growths (polyps) and cancer tumours in the bowel. From here the bacteria can make pre-cancerous growths in the bowels turn cancerous while also making existing bowel tumours get bigger.
Results have been published in Cell Growth and Microbe, with co-author Wendy Garrett explaining that a better understanding of the process will hopefully stop people developing cancerous tumours.
“Alternatively, and perhaps more importantly, our findings suggest that drugs targeting the same or similar mechanisms of bacterial sugar-binding proteins could potentially prevent these bacteria from exacerbating colorectal cancer,” the Harvard University TH Chan School of Public Health expert added.
Separate evidence also shows that gum disease can fuel Alzheimer’s disease, with the bugs that make gums bleed found to also have a devastating effect on the brain.