New research suggests that adults who have cavities in their teeth might have less of a risk to develop certain cancers, such as those associated with the head and neck. The team of researchers based their study on comparing 399 people who had various head and neck types of cancer with 221 who were healthy and cancer-free.
The head of the research study, Dr. Mine Tezal of the University of Buffalo, analyzed the data and discovered that the people in the group of healthy individuals without cancer who had cavities in their teeth had a risk of getting neck and head cancers that was 32 percent less. Factors like marital status, gender, and drinking and smoking habits were some of those taken into account.
The research for the study was conducted at a comprehensive cancer center’s dental and maxillofacial prosthetics clinic.
According to the researchers, their study suggests “an independent association between dental caries and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.”
These sorts of bacteria associated with cavities, besides having the potential to prevent head and neck cancer, might also serve to lower the risk of allergies, inflammatory diseases, and even other sorts of cancer, though more research needs to be done to verify the results of Dr. Tezal and the other researchers at the University of Buffalo.
Why would people who have cavities be less prone to developing certain cancers?
The lowered cancer risk for some types of cancer might be due to lactic acid bacteria which is present in cavities. These are similar to bacteria found in yogurt, and lactic acid bacteria could potentially be a protection against developing neck and head cancers.
Cavities in the teeth are associated with other health ailments, including the pain a person experiences from having them, and the difficulty of eating on whichever side of one’s mouth that the cavities are in; but, the cavities -or, rather, the lactic acid found in them — could have the benefit of hindering the development of some types of cancer cells.
Dr. Mine Tezal mentioned in an interview in Health Day that if a person has gum disease, that is a different case, as “we had previously observed an increased risk of head and neck cancers among subjects with [gum] disease.”
Dr. Dennis Kraus, who works at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told Health Day:
We see a mechanism that may protect against mouth cancer, and may be a potential strategy either as part of prevention or treatment of oral cavity cancer. This is a fascinating first step.”
You can read this study online in Jama Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Also, according to an article at Medscape.com, cavites and the lactic bacteria found in them cause to result “a potent Th1 immune response in peripheral blood mononuclear cells promoting CD8+ T-cell responses.”
Does this mean eating a lot of sweets and other foods containing sugar, and also not brushing your teeth and flossing are good for your health? Probably no dentist would tell their patients that the lack of practicing good dental hygiene is healthy for you; but, lactic acid definitely seems to be good for you and acts to help prevent some types of cancers, whether it’s from your cavities or from some other source, such as yogurt.
Written by: Douglas Cobb