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Mouthwash - the only place it should be going is down the sink


We all want fresh breath, but at what cost? Every year millions of people use mouthwash, however they are rinsing and gargling with a product that has been proven to cause cancer. Studies have linked the alcohol in these products to cancer, with one study involving 3,210 people finding that a non smoker, non drinker, increased their risk of mouth, neck or head cancer by a shocking four to five times.

So what is in the most popular brands of mouthwash? The product I’ve singled out today is Listerine, which has many potential harmful ingredients, the main one being alcohol at a level of up to 26.9%, depending on which type of mouthwash is chosen. Listerine was actually originally developed as a cleaning agent in surgical theatres.

The alcohol in mouthwash is called ethanol and is thought to allow cancer-causing substances to infiltrate the lining of the mouth where they can cause damage. An article in the International Journal of Cancer says of certain mouthwashes, “Acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product of alcohol that may accumulate in the oral cavity when swished around the mouth, is also believed to be carcinogenic... According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there exists sufficient evidence to demonstrate carcinogenicity of acetaldehyde in animals, therefore it is ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ also” (2009).

Yet again, when we look to our government and health authorities to protect us, they dither and ignore. Even if the evidence is minimal, but there is a reasonable assumption that it may cause cancer, why don’t they ban these ingredients until further testing has been carried out.

Other ingredients in mouthwash are questionable and have shown to be toxic or allergenic in humans and toxic in the environment, including poloxamer 407, Eucalyptol, thymol and methyl salicylate.

So you still want fresh breath, but not the cancerous consequences? Gargling with warm, salty water, whilst not refreshing or tasty, can kill bacteria in your mouth. I think we need to step back and realize we don’t need mouthwash, and that we have been sold on is an unnecessary product, by companies who see there is money to be made from duping the consumer. It is also a dangerous product to have in the home if there are children around; no one wants to poison their curious child who may drink the pretty, minty liquid.

So, stop living in fear of bad breath and avoid the alcoholic mouthwash because you can reduce your risk of cancer and save money at the same time. Who knows, maybe you’ll spend the extra money on a nice bottle of chardonnay.

What do you think?