Two new studies have identified a possible link between bacteria commonly found in the mouth and cancerous tumours that form in the colon. Researchers hope that the new findings could allow doctors to identify patients who are at risk, or lead to new ways of treating the disease.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer among Canadian men. The disease begins in the cells lining the inside of the colon, but can spread to other parts of the body as the tumour grows and cells begin to break off and travel around in the bloodstream.
Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the U.S. have found that bacteria from the mouth are present in cancerous tumours in the colon. This finding suggests that the bacteria could be causing harmless growths to develop into full-blown colon cancer.
The bacteria under suspicion are known as fusobacteria. This type of bacteria is found in dental plaque, which builds up on teeth unless it is carefully removed through regular brushing. As well as being a potential cause of colon cancer, fusobacteria also contribute to gum disease.
Further research at Case Western Reserve University has shown that a molecule on the surface of fusobacteria allows them to attach to colon tumour cells. The molecules then switch on genes that cause the cells to become cancerous, as well as causing inflammation which helps the tumours to grow.
These two studies pave the way for further research into the role that bacteria play in triggering and driving the growth of cancerous tumours. It is hoped that greater understanding of the causes and development of cancer will lead to new treatments and preventative measures.
Although it is too early to say whether fusobacteria are a significant cause of colon cancer, the new findings are further evidence that oral bacteria play an important role in overall health. The best way to keep the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth in check is to brush regularly to remove dental plaque and see your dentist regularly.
There are many ways to protect a great smile, but who knew that eating certain foods was among them? Various foods are regarded as highly beneficial for teeth, their enamel, and overall good health. Including these foods in your daily diet will help protect your teeth for years to come and provide the nutrients they need to keep that smile intact!
Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber are excellent foods for your teeth—but the crunchier the better! Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and broccoli, for instance, have a scrubbing effect that cleans the teeth. Moreover, the simple act of chewing them up creates additional saliva that helps to neutralize any enamel-harming acids in the mouth. High fiber fruits and vegetables are essentially teeth scrubbers. Other fruits and vegetables like carrots, artichokes, and pears are also teeth-friendly items to keep on hand.
Dairy products are excellent for your teeth. Milk, yogurt, and cheese, for example, provide calcium that is essential for your teeth. The vitamin D in these dairy products enhances the body’s ability to use calcium effectively. The key, of course, is to choose dairy items that do not contain added sugars like ice cream or chocolate milk.
Various nuts and foods like almonds are great snacks that can benefit your teeth. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews are loaded with vitamins and minerals that your teeth need for optimum health. Fiber and calcium-containing nuts not only complement tooth-health, but are good for the body’s overall health. Nuts are also convenient to take on the go; keep some on hand at the office or in a handbag for healthy snacking.
While these foods are ideal for your teeth, don’t forget that beverages can promote a healthy set of teeth too! Water makes up saliva which your mouth needs to offset acids and wash away sugars in the mouth. Of course, if you happen to be a tea drinker, you’re also contributing to the health of your smile. The polyphenols that are contained in both green and black teas can destroy bacteria that form plaque. Don’t lament if you happen to favor coffee either! Coffee has a similar ability to ward off these plaque-forming bacteria.
Your diet is essential for healthy teeth as well as a healthy body. Next time you visit the grocery store, be sure to stock up on these foods so both you and your family can better protect your teeth!