That Burning From Mouthwash? It's Cancer

Great news, kids! Australian researcher Michael McCullough says you should stop using alcoholic mouthwashes like Listerine and Scope because they could give you oral cancer.

[Alcohol] increases the permeability of the mucosa to other carcinogens like nicotine,” explains Professor McCullough. “But also the first breakdown product of alcohol with enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase is acetaldehyde. And acetaldehyde is a known human carcinogen.”


He says there is enough evidence to suggest dentists should not be recommending long-term use, and earlier this evening the New Zealand Ministry of Health advised that it is not sensible to use alcohol-containing mouthwash long-term without advice from a dentist.

Smokers are still far more likely than mouthwash users to get oral cancer—fifty times more likely, according to some studies, so you shouldn’t rush over to the oncologist’s office at the first pangs of a new canker sore.

Dentists also say that you don’t really need mouthwash if you brush and floss regularly and eat a healthy diet. Which, um, we all do, right?

Research shows some mouthwashes may cause cancer [3 News] (Thanks to Shaula!)
Mouthwash linked with increased cancer risk [ABC]
The role of alcohol in oral carcinogenesis with particular reference to alcohol-containing mouthwashes [Australia Dental Journal Abstract]

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