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Certain mouthwash could be raising your risk of cancer and other disease, scientists warn


A popular type of mouthwash used by Brits could raise the risk of certain cancers and diseases, new research has found. Scientists have warned that alcohol-based mouthwash could increase potentially dangerous bacteria in the mouth, leading to oesophageal and bowel cancer.

The bacteria, known as fusobacterium nucleatum and streptococcus anginosus, have also been linked to periodontal disease – or gum disease.

In the study, which was published in Journal of Medical Microbiology, researchers discovered these two species of bacteria were significantly more abundant in the mouth after three months of daily use of the alcohol-based mouthwash.

Scientists from the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp also saw a decrease in a group of bacteria called actinobacteria which are crucial contributors to the regulation of blood pressure.

Dr Jolein Laumen, first author of the study and researcher at ITM’s Unit of Sexually Transmitted Infections said: “Alcohol-based mouthwashes are widely available.

“The public may use them daily to tackle bad breath or prevent periodontitis, but they should be aware of the potential implications.

“Ideally, long-term usage should be guided by healthcare professionals”.

The research is a follow-up to a larger study investigating the use of mouthwash as a method to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases in men who have sex with men.

Researchers wanted to explore further and investigate whether the mouthwash used had an impact on the oral microbiome of the patients.

Professor Chris Kenyon, author of the study and head of the STU unit, said: “Up to half of men who have sex with men report using mouthwash for oral hygiene.

“This study adds to the literature that this is likely having an adverse effect on their oral microbiomes”.

As reported by Eureka Alert, while the results link the daily use of alcohol-based mouthwash to alterations of the oral microbiome, researchers said they were reluctant to draw substantial conclusions from the data.

A previous study, published in Medicina Oral Patologia Oral Cirugia Bucal journal, in 2020 found an “increased risk” for head and neck cancer following mouthwash use.

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