Take a Bite Out of Colon Cancer

By My Gut Instinct

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 3rd most common cancer and 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in worldwide. Because > 90% of CRC cases involve a carcinoma that develops from a precancerous polyp, screening for and early identification, and removal of polyps through screening colonoscopy is important. Identifying risk factors for polyps may also be useful for preventing CRC.

Recently, researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered that poor dental health is linked to colorectal polyps.  Frequent dental visits, presumably a marker of good periodontal health, appear to be linked to a lower risk for precancerous colon polyps.

They studied 1,564 patients undergoing colonoscopy. Researchers also obtained sociodemographic information, and determined periodontal health as judged by the frequency of dental visits, the presence of loose teeth, gum quality and treatment for gum disease. After adjustments for age, sex and tobacco use, frequency of dental visits was inversely associated with the presence of precancerous polyps.

Compared with people who said they had never gone to the dentist, patients seeing the dentist every six months had a 52% lower risk for these polyps; those who reported seeing a dentist between once and twice per year had a 34% reduced risk.

Cultures taken from otherwise healthy patients with a history of polyps found an abundance of viable oral microbes.  These findins make sense as the oral cavity is directly connected to the gut, which is teeming with microbes.

The benefits of good oral hygiene do not end with a sparkling smile and healthy gums. These study findings suggest that controlling oral disease is important to the prevention and management of colorectal polyps with precancerous potential.   Maintaining good oral health may be a potential strategy to prevent colorectal cancer. And most importantly, make your BOTTOM a TOP PRIORITY. Get screened for colorectal cancer!

Reference:

Rifkin, S, Drewes, J, McMann, M, et al. (2019). Su1983 – Lack of Preventive Dental Care is Associated with Sessile Serrated Polyps in a Screening Colonoscopy Cohort. Gastroenterology. 156. S-681. 10.1016/S0016-5085(19)38617-2.

www.cancer.org

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