Oral Mircobiota and the Link to Esophageal Cancer






The Ontario Dental Hygienist’s Association recently published a study in the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study demonstrated that some types of bacteria that lead to periodontal disease were also associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer death in the world. The study, conducted by Jiyoung Ahn, Ph.D., said: “esophageal cancer is not often discovered until it has reached an advanced stage leaving the five-year survival rates ranging from 15 to 25 percent worldwide”.


To determine whether oral microbiota were linked to a risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) or esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), Ahn and colleagues collected oral wash samples from 122 000 participants in two large health studies: the National Cancer Institute Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial and; the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II, Nutrition Cohort.


In the 10 year follow-up, 106 participants developed esophageal cancer. A prospective case-control study was completed where the researchers extracted DNA and oral wash samples, allowing researchers to compare the oral microbiomes of the esophageal cancer cases and the cancer-free cases.


Higher levels of the Tannerella Forsythia bacteria were found to be associated with a 21 percent increased risk of EAC. Additionally, the bacteria Porphyromonas Gingivalis was associated with a higher risk of ESCC.



A limitation of the study is that researchers did not have complete data on the participants oral health so they were not able to determine if Tanerella Forsythia bacteria and Porphyromonas Gingivalis alone was enough to increase the risk of esophageal cancer, or if periodontal disease lead by Porphyromonas Gingivalis and Tanerella Forsythia was the risk factor.

Either way, there is a clear link between one’s oral health and their overall well being, showing that is important to take care of your mouth with proper oral hygiene and regular cleanings! If you are interested in knowing more about the pathogens and bacteria in your mouth, or if you are due for your regular dental hygiene, you can schedule an appointment on our website or give us a call at 289-868-9374.


If you know a friend or family member who would benefit from reading the results of this study, be sure to pass the information along to them!


Yours in oral health,

Amie Banting, RRDH



Reference: Oral Microbiota Indicates Link Between Periodontal Disease and Esophageal Cancer. (2017, December 12). Health Canal. Retrieved from https://www.healthcanal.com/oral-dental-health/242511-oral- microbiota-indicates-link-periodontal-disease-esophageal-cancer.html
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