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Brushing your teeth could reduce risk of throat cancer

8 December 2017

Brushing your teeth could reduce risk of throat cancer

New research suggests that brushing your teeth could decrease the risk of developing throat cancer by more than one-fifth.

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 from the journal Cancer Research found.

There are some bacterial strains that lower an individual’s likelihood of developing oesophageal cancer. Therefore, it is not certain whether it’s a specific bacteria strain itself or periodontal disease that leads to food pipe tumours.

The research was carried out in New York University and analysed samples from 122,000 individuals who swished liquid around their mouths. Over 10 years, 106 of the study’s participants developed oesophageal cancer.

Researchers argue their findings highlight the importance of good oral hygiene, including brushing teeth twice a day and regular visits to the dentist to maintain oral health.

According to the researchers, throat cancer is the eighth most common form of cancer and the sixth leading cause of related deaths worldwide. 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.

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

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.' 

It is important to maintain good oral health to avoid serious complications in the future. Here are some foods that can help maintain oral hygiene in more ways than one.

1. Apple

Apple is a great source of fibre and acts as a great cleansing agent. It also contains malic acid which boosts saliva production, hence removing bacteria from the mouth, thus preventing any gum disease. The fibrous texture of apples also helps in improving the health of your gums.

2. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are known to be abrasive in texture and so can help remove plaque and stains present in the mouth. The omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts and flax seeds can also help lower the risk of gum disease.

3. Vitamin C rich foods

Vitamin C rich foods such as citric fruits help protect the gums from infection.

4. Thyme

Thyme is known to have strong anti-bacterial properties and may alleviate any gum disease.


Desk, N. (2017). Bacteria In Mouth May Cause Esophageal Cancer; Here's How You Can Maintain Oral Hygiene. Retrieved 4 December 2017, from 

This everyday habit could reduce your risk of throat cancer. (2017). Mail Online. Retrieved 4 December 2017, from

Author: Keshiv Thakur

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