This everyday habit could reduce your risk of cancer

Brushing your teeth could slash your risk of developing throat cancer by more than one-fifth, new research suggests.

Higher levels of certain bacteria that are linked to gum disease increase an individual’s likelihood of developing the condition by 21 percent, a US study found.

It is unclear whether it is the bacteria themselves or gum disease that leads to foodpipe tumors.

Researchers argue their findings highlight the importance of good oral hygiene, including brushing teeth twice a day and regular dentist visits, to maintain people’s dental health, as well as avoiding other health complications.

Throat cancer is the eighth most common from of the disease and the sixth leading cause of related deaths worldwide, according to the researchers.

Yet due to the cancer often not being discovered until it has reached an advanced stage, five-year survival rates range from just 15 to 25 percent.
Brushing your teeth could slash your risk of developing throat cancer by more than one-fifth


People can maintain good oral hygiene by:

  • Brushing their teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Cleaning between teeth with floss or interdental brushes at least once a day
  • Avoiding sugary food and drinks
  • Having regular dental check ups

How the research was carried out 

Researchers from New York University analyzed the samples of 122,000 people who swished liquid around in their mouths.

Over 10 years, 106 of the study’s participants developed esophageal cancer.

The findings were published in the journal Cancer Research.

Results highlight the importance of oral hygiene 

Results reveal certain bacteria that are associated with gum disease increase the risk of throat cancer by 21 percent.

Yet, other bacterial strains lower an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer of the foodpipe.

It is unclear whether specific bacteria or gum diseases raises people’s cancer risk.

Lead author Professor Jiyoung Ahn said: ‘Our study indicates that learning more about the role of oral microbiota may potentially lead to strategies to prevent esophageal cancer or at least to identify it at earlier stages.

‘Esophageal cancer is a highly fatal cancer, and there is an urgent need for new avenues of prevention, risk stratification, and early detection.’

Professor Ahn added the findings confirm the need for good oral health to protect against gum disease and other health complications.

Previous research has linked gum disease caused by certain oral bacteria to several types of cancer, including those of the mouth, head and neck.

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