IS IT TRUE? Oral Hygiene Impacts Colon Cancer?

Did everyone see the buzz about oral hygiene and colon cancer? Here’s a quick report from Cleveland’s newspaper The Plain Dealer about the research uncovered at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine:

Research, published online today in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, explains how the bacterium [gingivitis-causing bacteria] may turn on tumor growth in the colon, and also identifies a way to prevent its action. The researchers also hope their work will lead to a diagnostic tool that will help identify those at risk of colon cancer earlier in the disease’s progression.

Read the full article about Colon Cancer and Oral Bacteria.

So – is it true? Can you believe what you read on the Internet?


Dr. Neal J. Meropol

We asked internationally-known colon cancer clinical researcher (and Medical Advisory Board member) Dr. Neal J. Meropol, Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, for his opinion.

Here’s what he had to say:

“It’s not surprising that as we learn more about the human microbiome – that is, our relationship with the bacteria that normally live in our bodies – that new links will be found with “non-infectious” diseases including cancer. We can’t forget that bacteria play an important role in maintaining normal colonic health.”

What does this mean for you?

A few things.

One – remember that not all bacteria is bad – the colon needs some bacteria in order to stay healthy.

Two – continue to brush your teeth – for more reasons than one. What this study does show is that preventative health steps like brushing your teeth, and even seeing a dentist regularly, may create ripples of health benefits throughout your body.

Three – Despite the many benefits of brushing, remember that we must not rely solely on brushing our teeth as a way to prevent colorectal cancer. Nothing replaces an active lifestyle, healthy diet and proactive screening when it comes to colorectal cancer prevention.

Even daily flossing.