Recent studies show that an oral bacteria found in patients with moderate to severe gum disease may accelerate the growth of Colon Cancer. About a third of colorectal cancers are associated with this oral bacterium called Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. Nucleatum). Those cancers which are associated with F. nucleatum are often the most aggressive.
Researchers at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine discovered the mechanism by which F. Nucleatum accelerates the growth of colon cancer. The researchers found that healthy, noncancerous colon cells lack a protein called Annexin A-1. Annexin A-1 stimulates cancer growth. Annexin A-1 helps F. Nucleatum bind to the cancer cell and by doing so the growth of cancer cells is accelerated. In addition, F Nucleatum increases the production of Annexin A-1. Annexin A-1 attracts more F. Nucleatum. It is a vicious cycle! This feedback loop of Annexin A-1 production and F. Nucleatum binding explains why some colon cancers advance more quickly. Patients with increased Annexin A-1 expression had a worse prognosis regardless of the cancer grade, stage, age or sex.
In moderate to advanced gum disease, the area between the tooth and gum has a deeper “pocket” where increasingly virulent bacteria live. The most virulent bacteria prefer an oxygen deprived environment and the deep periodontal pocket provides this. F. Nucleatum is one such bacteria. It is rarely found in healthy gums. Just one more reason to detect gum disease as early as possible and treat it aggressively! It could be a matter of life and death.