Mouthwash brands linked to cancer

12 Jan 2009, 0000 hrs IST, ANI

MELBOURNE: Australian health experts have warned that top-selling mouthwashes can cause oral cancer and should be pulled from supermarket shelves immediately.

The experts issued the warning after investigating latest scientific evidence linking alcohol-containing mouthwashes to the deadly disease.

The investigation concludes that there is now ‘sufficient evidence’ that “alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer”.

The mouthwash contains ethanol, which is believed 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. Listerine, the nation’s biggest-selling mouthwash and a brand endorsed by the Australian Dental Association, contains as much as 26% alcohol.

Lead review author Michael McCullough said alcohol-containing mouthwash should be reclassified as prescription-only and carry written health warnings. McCullough, who’s also chair of the ADA’s therapeutics committee, is calling on the ADA to urgently reassess its seal of approval on mouthwashes containing alcohol.