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Features / April 4, 2014

New mouth and throat cancer causes

by Guy Hiscott

Poor oral health and failure to have regular dental check-ups could increase the risk of mouth and throat cancer, say researchers.

Using mouthwash up to three times a day could also increase the risk.

The study tested 1,962 patients with mouth and throat cancer and conducted across nine countries. An additional 1,993 people were examined to compare the findings.

Professor Wolfgang Ahrens, deputy director of the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS), said: ‘These results are really important. Up until now, it was not really known if these dental risk factors were independent of well-known risks for mouth and throat cancers – smoking, alcohol and socioeconomic status.’


Poor oral health included those who had complete or part dentures and persistently bleeding gums.

Dr David Conway, clinical senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow Dental School, added: ‘People should not assume that if they wear dentures and have none of their own teeth, they have no need to see a dentist.

‘On the contrary, even if you have got dentures, you should make sure you go for regular check-ups.’

The researchers believed the findings were highly ‘nuanced’ and that the risk factors all connected in one way or another.

But they concluded that the role of mouthwash as a causative factor would require further study.

The research was carried by the University of Glasgow Dental School as part of a Europe-wide collaboration organised by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

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