As the first part of your digestive system, your mouth is often described by doctors as ‘the first stomach’, where food has to be chewed correctly in order to make it easier for your other organs to digest it. Because of its link with your entire digestive system, your mouth contains a large quantity of bacteria that, depending on everyone’s individual hygiene and diet, can vary and cause you to have a whiteish tongue or bad breath.
A recent study was led by Queen’s University in Belfast with 469,000 people into the relationship between poor oral hygiene and the risks of developing some cancers such as liver, colon, rectal or pancreas cancer. In fact, according to some researchers, the spread of bacteria could have a possible effect on the development of some conditions and diseases in the entire digestive system.
A question of lifestyle more than just hygiene
The results of this study allowed scientists to pick up on a trend between poor oral hygiene and the development of some cancers such as hepatocellular carcinomas, which is the main variant of liver cancer, as well as hepatobiliary duct cancer.
But although this trend is apparent, it doesn’t allow them to establish a complete and direct link between the two as Doctor Benoît Lalonde who teaches at the faculty of dentistry at the University of Montreal, explains.
‘To see two things at the same time is an association, but it does not make it a causal relationship. It would not be surprising that a patient who does not take care of his mouth also does not take care of his health in general, whether it is a patient who is overweight, who is diabetic, who is a smoker, etc. We see that there are several collateral factors that could explain heart disease or hepatocellular disease.’
In addition, researchers have discovered that the majority of people with problems with their oral hygiene are young people from less fortunate backgrounds and consume less than two portions of their fruit and veg a day.