The role of bacteria in esophageal cancer

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Esophageal cancer is increasingly becoming a global problem, particularly since common factors such as obesity, alcohol consumption, diet and use of tobacco have all been reported as being causative factors in the pathogenesis of this type of cancer.

Research has also found how different bacterial species can increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis are both species of anaerobic, Gram-negative bacteria that are known causative agents of a wide range of periodontal diseases; their presence however has now also been linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

Both bacterial species induce processes involved with esophageal carcinoma via their interaction with signaling pathways that are responsible for cancer development. Although esophageal cancer development can have a multifactorial aetiology and therefore may not be triggered by bacterial species alone, there is no doubt that improving the treatment of periodontitis and improving oral hygiene in general, can help to substantially reduce the risk of esophageal cancer.

Kerri Brown

Journal Development Editor, BMC

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