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A 34-year-old member asked:

If alcohol drinking leads to oral cancer, then does this mean that using mouth wash also may cause cancer?

3 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Steven Heavner
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 21 years experience
Unsure: While alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor (especially when mixed with tobacco smoke) for head and neck cancer, the debate about the effect of oral mouthwash continues. There is some belief that regular exposure may increase the risk of having abnormalities along the lining of the mouth.
Dr. David Astrachan
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 38 years experience
Good question: Alcohol, by itself, is not nearly as strong a risk factor for oral cancer as alcohol and smoking. Inflammation of the oral cavity can increase the risk of oral cancer. Most alcohol based mouth rinses are formulated not to irritate and therefore have significantly less of a carcinogenic effect.
Dr. Simon Rosenberg
Prosthodontics 47 years experience
Perhaps: There have been suggestions that over a long period of time, alcohol containing mouthwash could have a carcinogenic effect. I do not know of any studies that confirm this, but funding for such a study might be difficult to get. The role of alcohol in producing oral cancer is probably it's ability to dissolve & extract chemicals from tobacco &carry them into the oral tissues where cancer starts.

Similar questions

A 30-year-old member asked:

If alcohol drinking may lead to oral cancer, then does this mean that using mouth wash also may cause cancer?

2 doctor answers9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Albert Pizzo
Family Medicine 61 years experience
Cancer of mouth: Using mouth wash to rinse your mouth is not known to cause oral cancer.

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Last updated Sep 28, 2016

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