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Dental Disease and Pancreatic Cancer?

Three separate recent studies year suggest a modest but definite relationship between bacteria that are associated with periodontal / oral disease and pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas).

The largest and most recently published research primarily by European (and some American) researchers reported out recently in the December, 2013 issue of the medical journal Gut in a matched control study, found that those with a high level of antibodies against the periodontal bacteria “Porphyromonas gingivalis ATTC 53978” had twice the risk of pancreatic cancer as compared with controls.

In May, 2012 New York University scientists had reported in the journal Carcinogenesis a relationship between the bacteria “Porphyromonas gingivalis” and digestive cancers including possibly for pancreatic cancer.

And UCLA researchers in the April, 2012 issue (also) in the journal Gut detailed associations between variation in human salivary bacteria and pancreatic cancer.

Not only might this help in further establishing associations with for pancreatic cancer, but perhaps highlights saliva as a possible target for biomarkers aimed at screening and earlier diagnosis.

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Dale O’Brien, MD

Low Adiponectin (fat cell) Hormone Associated with Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Harvard researchers led by Ying Bao, MD, ScD (Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) published an article last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute with an intriguing finding.  In looking at 468 pancreatic cancer patients (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas) compared with 1080 matched control subjects, they found that the fat cell secreted hormone adiponectin (in serum) was lower in the pancreatic cancer patient group (6.2 vs. 6.8 µg/mL). This finding held for each of the five groups of patients that they studied.

Low adiponectin in blood being associated with higher risk – implies that abnormal glucose and/or fat metabolism may be a contributor to the growth of pancreatic cancer tissue.  The findings of this preliminary study lends itself better understanding the origins of pancreatic cancer, and further research for earlier diagnosis and even treatment.

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Dale O’Brien, MD

New Easier BLOD Test to Help Evaluate Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors

One of the standard tests to try to diagnose carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors has been the 5-HIAA test – which required a 24-hour sample of urine.  This was often messy, inconvenient, embarrassing, and consequently sometimes inaccurate.

The term 5-HIAA stands for 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid which is a main metabolite of serotonin – and which is typically found in large quantities in those with tumors such as carcinoid.

Researchers from University of Iowa, Eastern Virginia Medical School, and Louisiana State University have developed a blood test that can establish 5-HIAA plasma levels.  Further, they found that this fasting 5-HIAA blood level is proportionate to the 24-hour urinary levels – giving similar useful clinical information without the hassles of the urine test.

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Dale O’Brien, MD