Pancreatic cancer may be prevented by brushing your teeth, and maintaining good oral hygiene, scientists have revealed.
Gum disease has been linked to mouth cancer, as well as other cancers around the body, said the Swedish researchers.
Gum disease could be prevented by brushing your teeth twice a day, and by flossing regularly, according to the NHS.
Spotting gum disease – or periodontitis – early could lower the risk of subsequently developing cancers, the researchers claimed.
“These studies have demonstrated for the first time that the virulence factors of the central pathogenic bacteria underlying gum disease are able to spread from the mouth to other parts of the body,” said researcher Dr Timo Sorsa.
“It’s most likely in conjunction with the bacteria, and taking part in central mechanisms of tissue destruction related to cancer.”
Gum disease causes low-grade inflammation in the mouth, the scientists said.
The inflammation helped spread the bacteria to other parts of the body, including the pancreas.
Early diagnosis of periodontitis is not only important for patients’ oral health, but also their overall health, said Sorsa.
“In the long run, this is extremely cost-effective for society,” he added.
Gum disease is a very common condition where the gums become swollen or infected, the NHS said.
Gums may bleed when you brush them, and you may suffer from bad breath.
Untreated periodontitis can damage the bone in your jaw, and you may end up losing teeth.
Almost 10,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed every year, according to charity Cancer Research UK.
Symptoms of the disease include a pain in the back or stomach area, and unexpected weight loss.
The most obvious sign of pancreatic cancer is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
About half of all new cases are in people over 74 years old.