Floss, kids—it could save your life. A new study has linked infections from Porphyrmomonas gingivalis, a bacteria associated with gum disease and poor dental hygiene, with pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly cancers around. The study also pointed the finger at Helicobacter pylori, LiveScience reports, a stomach bacteria that has previously been linked with stomach cancer and peptic ulcers.
Researchers have a number of theories as to what bacteria in your mouth and stomach might have to do with pancreas tumors. The bacteria may cause body-wide inflammation, weaken the body's immune system, or directly activate pancreatic tumor signaling pathways, researchers said. But it's also possible that known pancreatic cancer risk factors—like smoking, obesity, and diabetes—simply leave the body vulnerable to other infections. (Read more gum disease stories.)