Lethal Mouth Bacteria: Fusobacteria Could Cause Colorectal Cancer, Not Just Gum Disease

By Nsikan Akpan, PhD on August 14, 2013 4:36 PM EDT

Mint floss
Preventing gum disease could also help you lower your risk for colorectal cancer. (Photo: Derek Preston, Flickr)

A strain of mouth bacteria that causes gum disease may have a more lethal health consequence: colorectal cancer. This is according to two independent studies - one from Harvard, the other from Case Western Reserve University - published today in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Prior work in mouse models has shown that gut bacteria, which include species found in the mouth, can promote the development of colon tumors. Over the last two years, a series of genetic studies on human colon biopsies revealed that one family of microbes - Fusobacteria - is present in healthy tissue adjacent to colorectal cancer.

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