This Bad Habit Might Give You Throat Cancer

Republished with permission from Musely an Evio Community Partner

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A study published in the journal Cancer Research now links periodontal (gum) disease, which can be caused by not brushing your teeth regularly, with esophageal cancer (that tube that runs from your throat to your stomach). Could not brushing your teeth really be a cause of throat cancer? 

It just might be. For the study, researchers took mouth samples from 122,000 people and, after 10 years, 106 people had developed esophageal cancer. The researchers discovered that people who developed esophageal cancer were more likely to have higher levels of certain types of bacteria in their mouths. Called Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis, these two types of bacteria are also linked to gum disease. (Tannerella forsythia, in particular, was linked to a 21 percent increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.) These bacteria can build up in your gums when you don't brush regularly, increasing your odds of developing periodontal disease. 

However, it's worth pointing out a few issues with the study: One, the researchers didn’t have complete information on the study participants’ oral health, so it was hard for them to say if the bacteria alone caused throat cancer or if the participants actually had to have periodontal disease to have an increased risk.

Also, it’s important to remember that this study looked at the types of bacteria linked to esophageal cancer, not teeth-brushing habits. So it's possible that the people who developed esophageal cancer also just happened to have bad oral hygiene, and they actually did brush their teeth regularly. 

The moral of the story is: Just brush your teeth at twice a day. You don't know what kind of nasty germs you could be attracting if you don't.