Alcohol in mouthwash may raise cancer risk

Jan. 12, 2009 at 11:55 AM

SYDNEY, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Australian researchers say mouthwash containing alcohol increases the risk of developing oral cancer.

The report, published in the Australian Dental Journal, suggests mouthwash be made available only by prescription. Michael McCullough of Melbourne University said the alcohol may increase the ability of cancer causing compounds to attack the lining of the mouth, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday.

He said dentists need to be aware of the risks.

"If they are going to recommend alcohol-containing products then they recommend it for a good reason, for a short period of time," he said.

Jim Bishop of the New South Wales Cancer Institute, however, said there needs to be more research on the issue.

"We don't know what sort of risk we're talking about with people who use mouthwash regularly. ... it might be quite low or it might be high so we need to know the degree of risk that's involved," he told ABC News.

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