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Experts warn over mouthwash cancer claim

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  • Experts warn over mouthwash cancer claim

    • Mouthwashes "linked to oral cancer"
    • Experts warn there is strong evidence of danger
    • "Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol"

    CLAIMS of a link between antiseptic mouthwash and oral cancer have divided leading dental experts.

    A review article published in the current issue of the Dental Journal of Australia concludes there is now "sufficient evidence" that "alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer".

    However, Professor Laurence Walsh, head of the School of Dentistry at the University of Queensland today said their was no established link between mouthwash and oral cancer.

    In a letter to the editors of the journal, Professor Walsh criticised the authors of the paper for drawing on a "small and selective group of studies".

    "A wide range of critical and systematic reviews over many years have failed to show any statistically significant association between mouthwash use and oral cancer," he said.

    "There is certainly nothing in the current paper to change our thinking in that regard."

    According to the article, which is authored by several independent experts, ethanol in mouthwash is thought to allow cancer-causing substances to permeate the lining of the mouth more easily and cause harm.

    Acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product of alcohol that may accumulate in the oral cavity when swished around the mouth, is also believed to be carcinogenic.

    Mouthwash is one of the fastest-growing grocery products in Australia, with the category now worth more than $75 million, according to the latest Nielsen market research.

    Lead review author Professor Michael McCullough, associate professor of oral medicine at the University of Melbourne, said that that alcohol-containing mouthwash should be reclassified as prescription-only and carry written health warnings.,27574...11-421,00.html