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Cancer takes such a tremendous toll on the victims as well as loved ones. Billions of dollars are spent each year on research and medications in the battle against head and neck cancer. There are more than 600,000 new head and neck cancer diagnoses every ear. What if there was a simple remedy to ward off the development of this terrible disease?

Aspirin + Cancer Connection

Recent research has shown that non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can lower the risk of cancer. The researchers believe this is mainly achieved by reducing chronic inflammation, a driving force behind the development of many types of cancer.

Common NSAID’s include Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and Naproxen (Aleve). The research detailed the mechanism of NSAID’s. NSAID’s have been shown to inhibit  production of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. By disrupting this pathway, the growth of abnormal cells is slowed and promotes apoptosis (normal programmed cell death). This disruption can help stop the development of cancer. Further studies also show that NSAID’s can also decrease the proliferation of cells and slow the growth of blood vessels that supply blood to tumors. This means, that while taking these drugs, we decrease growth of cancer cells, and cause cells to die when they should. Cells should only live and reproduce for a set amount of time so that they don’t become abnormal. Taking these drugs also decreases the blood supply that cancer cells need to grow and reproduce.

The specific study examined over 120,000 cancer patients, including 316 with head and neck cancer. About 49% reported regular use of aspirin and about 29% used ibuprofen.

Regular aspirin use showed a 22% decrease in head and neck cancer, and seems to be extremely effective in preventing laryngeal cancer. Oddly, there was greater reduction in head and neck cancer risk with weekly and monthly aspirin use than daily use. There was no association found between the use of ibuprofen and head and neck cancer.

Earlier studies have also shown aspirin to give protection in the case of Barrett’s esophagus. This condition is precancerous and often leads to esophageal cancer. About 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with Barrett’s related esophageal cancer each year. This is the fastest rising type of cancer in the U.S. More than 80% of patients with invasive esophageal adenocarcinoma die within five years of diagnosis.

While more research is needed the positive link is there although people should not be fooled into thinking that taking aspirin counteracts the dangers of mouth cancer. The risk factors are still in play in terms of drinking, smoking, and exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). The aspirin will not counteract the risk factors.

Conclusion

While the jury is still out on the aspirin-cancer protection link and more research is needed, early reports are quite promising. It is amazing that aspirin still presents so many positive effects on us nearly 120 years since its discovery. The significance of these findings is, that many lives can be saved due to aspirin. Bottom line is, aspirin use is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer. This effect is more pronounced in individuals with low  exposure to known cancer risk factors. Moderation in all things in life is the key to staying healthy for a long time.

Pancreatic cancer is a malignancy, originating from transformed cells in tissues forming the pancreas.  Pancreatic cancer is ranked #4 amongst  cancer related deaths today. Difficulty in detection, leads to diagnosis in later stages, resulting in a low cure rate. Pancreatic cancer is responsible for about 40,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. Early diagnosis is key to reducing the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer.  How can your dentist help?

Recent research has uncovered a link between various oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer risk. The research showed that people with high levels of various oral bacteria had double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Those with lowered levels of harmless oral bacteria had a reduced risk for pancreatic cancer. This is another piece of evidence showing linkage between the mouth and your general health.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

-Family History/Genetics.  Between 5–10% of patients with pancreatic cancer have a family history of pancreatic cancer. The genes have not been identified.

-Age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most cases occur after age 60, while cases before age 40 are uncommon.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Marielaina Perrone DDS

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

-Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your chances of developing pancreatic cancer by a factor of almost 2x normal.

-Diet. People with poor diets are at an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. The factors include diets high in red meat, high consumption of sugary drinks, and lacking fruits and vegetables in diet.

-Obesity.

-Diabetes Mellitus.

-Periodontal Disease.

What Did the Study Show regarding Pancreatic Cancer and the Mouth?

The study (published in the journal, Gut) encompassed blood samples from over 800 European adults. The study found that high antibody levels for one or more infectious periodontal bacterium strains of  Porphyromonas gingivalis (bacteria common in periodontal disease ), were associated with a doubling of the risk for pancreatic cancer.

This is a significant finding.

There have been studies in the past, linking  periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer. The Gut research paper is the first to test whether antibodies for oral bacteria are indicators of pancreatic cancer risk. This was also the first study to associate our body’s immune response to commonly found bacteria, with pancreatic cancer risk. The physiological mechanism linking oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer is unclear at this time. The study just reinforces the theory that there is such a mechanism. So while we should not rush out and call this a risk factor it does deserve further study.

Conclusion

Ultimately, further research is needed but it further strengthens the theory that oral health is very important to a person’s overall health and a dentist plays a key role as well. So maintain a healthy mouth through regular dental examinations and professional cleanings, and in turn, you will probably stay a step ahead in your overall health.