Could Mouthwash Use be Linked to Cancer?

According to recent research that has come to light, there may be a link between certain types of mouth cancer and frequent mouth wash use (more than twice a day).

The European study studied individuals who were diagnosed with esophageal, vocal chord, mouth, or throat cancers, and their dental hygiene habits.

The results found that individuals with the worst oral health and dental hygiene had a risk of developing these cancers over twice as high as other groups. The link between mouthwash and cancer is not definitive, however, as the link was only found when it came to people who used mouthwash over 3 times a day, and even then, it is unknown if the cancer was caused by mouthwash or the underlying condition requiring such frequent mouthwash use.

The way the study was conducted was that researchers gathered roughly 2000 people who had been recently diagnosed with some form of so-called “upper aerodigestive” cancer, and compared them against 2000 individuals of similar breakdowns who did not have cancer.

They then interviewed all participants, asking them questions in order to determine their level of oral health and dental hygiene. After that, they asked all participants about their frequency of mouth wash use.

The basic results are as follows:

  • Average age of all participants was 60
  • 48% of cases had mouth cancer, followed by 36% who had lower throat or vocal chord cancer
  • Patients with poor dental hygiene had double the risk of developing cancer
  • Patients with “moderate” dental hygiene were not at increased risk
  • Patients who used mouthwash more than 3 times a day showed triple the rate of cancer, although researchers say that only 1.8% of cases and 0.8% of controls were such frequent users

Given how small those figures are, and the nature of their study, researchers are not 100% sure that there is a link between frequent mouthwash use and oral cancer, but they are confident in positing that the link might be there, and are interested in seeking further studies to find out for sure.

If you are concerned about your hygiene habits or any risks that might be associated with them, do not hesitate to get in touch with a dental care professional. In addition, there are plenty of alcohol-free mouthwashes out there, if you are still worried.