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Alcohol-containing Mouthwashes Linked to Cancer

Is there a possibility that mouthwashes with alcohol (i.e. Listerine) could be linked to cancer? First, we do know alcohol is a carcinogen so why is it being used in mouthwash? Also, it can be abused by adolescents due to the alcohol content.

Studies done with alcohol containing mouthrinses seem to support it’s efficacy for reducing gum disease. But are these studies flawed to favor the manufacturers of such products and is the benefit really worth the possible increased risk for cancer? Especially since there are many mouthrinses without alcohol or fluoride, which may be another carcinogen.

Interestingly enough, some mouthrinses can contain as much as 26% alcohol. Wow, that’s more than a glass of beer or wine!

Of course the makers of Listerine (Johnson & Johnson) as well as the ADA (American Dental Association) deny any association to oral cancer.

But a study by Professor Michael McCollough published a study that disagrees. His research included 3,210 people and concluded there is a “significant risk factor”. They also found the affect was a nine-fold increase in risk to smokers and five times the risk for those who drank alcohol.

An additional study completed by the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil reviewed case studies of 309 patients suffering from cancer of the mouth and pharynx. They found a clear association between the daily use of alcohol containing mouthwashes and cancers of the pharynx and mouth.

Other studies reviewed the use of low pH (acidic) mouthwashes like Listerine and Scope and found they caused erosion of dental enamel and increased sensitivity of teeth.

After these studies were debunked by Johnson & Johnson they introduced an alcohol-free mouthwash (Listerine Zero).

For your information, there are 35-40,000 cases of mouth and throat cancer every year. Therefore it is important to have a regular oral cancer screen by your dental professional.

And by the way, there are many effective non-alcohol mouthrinses – just ask about your options at your next visit to the JulianCenter.

2019 Julian Center for Comprehensive Dentistry

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