Elevated pathogen colonization and a lack of bacterial diversity in the mouth were identified in people with precancerous lesions that could precede stomach cancer, finds a new study led by New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) and New York University School of Medicine.
The findings, published in the November issue of the Journal of Periodontology, provide new evidence that the increase in pathogens associated with periodontal disease – a chronic, destructive disease in the gums and oral cavity – could contribute to the development of precancerous lesions of stomach cancer.
“Our study reinforces earlier findings that poor oral health is associated with an increased risk of precancerous lesions of stomach cancer,” said Yihong Li, DDS, MPH, DrPH, professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at NYU Dentistry and the study’s corresponding author.
The American Cancer Society estimated that 26,370 new cases of stomach or gastric cancer would be diagnosed in 2016, resulting in 10,703 deaths. Accumulating evidence suggests that chronic inflammation caused by oral bacterial infections may contribute to the development and progression of various types of cancer, including stomach cancer.
Although some risk factors – such as H. pylori colonization, cigarette smoking, and eating salt and preserved foods – have previously been confirmed to contribute to the development of stomach cancer, many new cases unrelated to these risk factors are diagnosed each year. Scientists have hypothesized that a group of pathogens may be responsible for causing periodontal disease and the resulting chronic systemic inflammation that may contribute to the development of gastric cancer.