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Say What? Not Doing This in the Bathroom Could Give You Colon Cancer

By on August 16, 2013
Bad bacteria found in the colon can lead to many health problems, but this one even has scientists worried.

The concern? A type of mouth bacteria, called fusobacteria, may stimulate negative immune responses, increasing the growth of tumors in the colon.

In short, it could give you colon cancer.

“Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumor growth and spread,” says Wendy Garrett of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

According to recent statistics, colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. Although recent studies showed a link between fusobacteria and colon cancer–it has been found in abundance in colon cancer tissue samples–researchers weren’t sure how the two were connected.

Now the studies show that fusobacteria helps trigger a response that turns on the growth of cancer genes in the colon, putting people at a higher risk for this deadly cancer.

More specifically, the fusobacteria helped attract a type of immune cell called myeloid cells, a cell that enters tumors, causing an inflammatory response from the immune system. When this occurs, it causes the tumor to become cancerous.

“We showed that FadA is a marker that can be used for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer and identified potential therapeutic targets to treat or prevent this common and debilitating disease,” says Yiping Han, of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

Fusobacteria is more commonly associated with dental problems, such as dental plaque and periodontal disease–problems that often occur when a person has poor oral health.

The bottom line? Taking care of your teeth just isn’t great for having a pretty smile–it could also save you from developing a deadly cancer.

How to Keep Fusobacteria at Bay

If you are at risk for colon cancer–or just want to keep your chances low–then taking care of your teeth should be a top concern. But what’s the best way to keep them clean–and keep fusobacteria at bay?

“You usually can prevent gum disease by brushing and flossing regularly, having regular dental visits for exams and cleaning, and eating a balanced diet,” writes WebMD.com. “If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, the bleeding should stop as your gums become healthier and tighter to your teeth. But bleeding gums may be a symptom of gum disease and should be brought to the attention of your dentist.”

WebMD.com goes on to recommend brushing two times a day using a toothpaste containing fluoride–but if you can’t, chewing sugar-free gum containing xylitol is a good substitute. Also, flossing matters; aim to floss once a day, preferably at night.

As for your diet, simply eating healthy is best: Foods that contain a lot of sugar usually aren’t healthy anyways, and eating too much can rot your teeth.

“Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, vegetables, and fruits; is low in fat and saturated fat; and is low in sodium,” says WebMD.com. “Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar, especially sticky, sweet foods like taffy and raisins. The longer sugar stays in contact with the teeth, the more damage it will do.”

Readers: What are some other oral healthcare tips you follow?

Sources:
Gum Disease PreventionWebMD.com
Gum Disease Bacteria Linked to Colon CancerEurekAlert.org

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