PG… More than a Movie Rating, Also a Risk for Pancreatic Cancer
So yes, we all know a PG rating on a movie means parental guidance. We are ready for some harsh language or possible sexual innuendo. Perhaps we prescreen the movie before our kids are allowed to see it. That is some “A game” parenting right there. There is a new PG to be aware of and it is far more nefarious. It is Porphyromonas Gingivalis. Say that three times fast. We will refer to it as PG from here on out (all the science people do too, so no worries).
PG is a high-risk bacteria involved in periodontal disease and a host of other systemic diseases as well. It increases the risk of and/or exacerbates Pancreatic cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and metabolic syndrome to name a few. PG is even associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.
How can it possibly affect so many different systems in the body? Let’s start from the beginning. PG is just one of many bacteria in the biofilm of the mouth. If not removed properly and regularly, it will reproduce in high enough numbers to cause inflammation and permeability of the tissue on the inside of the gum pocket. This is epithelial tissue. Once the epithelial tissue has microscopic ulcerations, bacteria and their toxins can get into the bloodstream and are shared throughout the rest of the body. If you have heard of leaky gut, this is the same-only leaky gums. All the crazy bacteria in your mouth can now be shared with EVERY system in your body! Think about that when you feel too tired to brush at night.
PG interferes in multiple signals of host immune response. For example, individuals with higher levels of PG have an increase in the production of proinflammatory cytokines. Excessive production of proinflammatory cytokines contributes to chronic inflammatory diseases. You can see where this leads.
As far as cardiovascular disease goes, they have identified several periodontal pathogens known to cause the disease. These bacteria work together and cause inflammation within the lining of the arterial walls, leading to plaque accumulation and eventually causing a blockage. Guess who always shows up to the party? If you didn’t say PG, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go back to the beginning and start reading this again. This is important stuff here!
Dementia and cardiovascular disease are closely related due to the underly inflammatory cause of both. Certain bacteria associated with periodontal disease are known to cross the blood-brain barrier, PG being one of them. Lipopolysaccharides from PG have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier as well. One study showed that anyone with the loss of more than sixteen teeth in early to midlife has a significantly higher risk of developing dementia. Seemingly random…hmmm.
Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers that tested positive for high levels of PG antibodies had more severe disease activity than individuals that tested at no or low levels of PG antibodies.
Individuals with increased levels of antibodies to PG (>200ng/ml) had a 2 fold increase in pancreatic cancer compared to others with lower numbers.
In a nutshell, PG is a master immune system hijacker. It causes certain aspects of the immune system to slow down, yet at the same time causing other parts of the immune system to overreact. Unfortunately, this can lead to chronic inflammation which we know is a major contributing factor to many diseases. After reading this, will you ever be able to think of PG as anything other than the menacing bacteria it is?