Alcohol-based mouthwashes may be a cause of oral cancer, researchers say. The risk increases nine-fold among smokers and drinkers.
The research team, which include dentists, says that dentists should stop recommending mouthwashes such as Listerine, and that the products should be removed from the shelves. After reviewing the data, researchers at the University of Queensland say there is "sufficient evidence" of a link between the products and oral cancer.
The study, which involved 3,200 people, found a nine-fold increase in risk among smokers, and a five-fold increased risk among drinkers. It's thought the ethanol in mouthwash helps nicotine and other cancer-causing substances to permeate the mouth. The ethanol can also cause acetaldehyde, another known carcinogen.
(Source: Australian Dental Journal, 2009; 53: 302-5).