Mouthwashes increase risk of oral cancer

Melbourne: Mouthwashes may be recommended to
treat dental infection and inflammation, but Australian
scientists have claimed that frequent use of these solutions,
mostly alcohol-based, increases the risk of oral cancer up to
nine times.

The dental researchers from the University of Queensland
and the University of Melbourne said although many popular
mouthwashes help in controlling dental plaque and gingivitis,
they should only be used for a short time and only as an
adjunct to other oral hygiene measures such as brushing and

Among people using alcohol-based mouthwashes, the risk
of oral cancer increases nine times if they smoked, and five
times if they drank alcohol, the experts warned.

For non-drinkers using such mouthwashes, the risk of
oral cancer is just under five times higher, the experts warn
in the latest edition of the National Prescribing Service
journal Australian Prescriber.

Brands of mouthwash with more than 20 per cent alcohol
could have other harmful effects, including the gum disease
gingivitis, flat red spots called petechiae and detachment of
the cells lining the mouth, they said.

"Long-term use of ethanol-containing mouthwashes should
be discouraged, given recent evidence of a possible link with
oral cancer," they wrote.

There are many alcohol-based mouthwashes available in
the market which contain up to 26 per cent alcohol.