Today’s Headlines: The Bacteria That May Be Linked to Pancreatic Cancer, How to Wash Your Hands, and Why You May Want to Reconsider Cranberry Supplements

New research has pinpointed two strains of oral bacteria that could increase your risk for developing pancreatic cancer. While the link between pancreatic cancer and gum disease has been determined in the past, the specifics of the link have not been clear until now. “Research released Tuesday showed that two species of bacteria with impossibly long names, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, were associated with a sharply increased risk of getting pancreatic cancer. The data showed that carrying both bacteria was linked to a 50 percent increased likelihood of contracting the cancer.” This discovery is a stepping stone toward further research for pancreatic cancer screening and prevention. (Washington Post)

Did you know there is a right way to wash your hands? A new study showed that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) hand washing model is more effective that the CDC’s. “The study—published online last week in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology—looked specifically at the use of alcohol-based hand rub, or sanitizer, by doctors and nurses in a hospital. The technique is similar to hand washing with soap and water. But hand sanitizer is often used in hospitals and other health-care settings to prevent the transmission of infections because it is faster…the researchers found that many fewer bacteria remained on the hands of those who used the WHO method compared with others following the more general CDC instructions.” The CDC instructions are a simplified version of the WHO’s guidelines. However, researchers argue the simplification makes the message less effective. (WSJ)

Taking a cranberry supplement probably won’t help your urinary tract infection. While cranberry products aren’t necessary ineffective, not all products are created equal. “Tests of seven popular cranberry-pill brands in the U.S. showed that most contained too little of the key bacteria-fighting ingredient to have any effect… More recent investigations show that cranberries or cranberry juice may actually work because they contain proanthocyanidins — antioxidant “flavonoids” like those found in blueberries, grape seeds and chocolate that also prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall and beginning the growth process…cranberry products need to contain at least 36 milligrams of proanthocyanidins per gram.” Researchers concluded that natural cranberry foods were the best choices to prevent infection. (Fox)