In Brief

Gargling mouthwash twice a day could increase diabetes risk, new study says

Harvard researchers discovered mouthwash kills beneficial bacteria that fight off obesity and diabetes

Using mouthwash daily can cure even the most extreme cases of bad breath but it may be doing so at a cost. A new study reveals that using mouthwash twice day can increase chances of contracting diabetes by more than 50%.

Harvard University researchers found that the fluid removes harmful bacteria but that it also removes “helpful microbes that live in the mouth and help protect against obesity and diabetes,” Net Doctor says.

A group of 1,206 overweight people between 40 and 65 who were at risk of getting diabetes took part in the study. The participants who used mouthwash twice a day were 55% more likely to contract diabetes or experience dangerous blood sugar spikes within three years.

Throughout the study 17% of participants developed diabetes or pre-diabetes, but this figure rose to 20% for participants using mouthwash once a day and 30% for those who used mouthwash in the morning and evening, the Daily Telegraph reports. 

“Although previous studies have found poor oral hygiene can lead to health problems elsewhere in the body, this is the first time research has shown a supposedly beneficial practice to have a potentially harmful effect,” according to Net Doctor. 

Harvard Professor of epidemiology Kaumudi Joshipura told the Telegraph: “Most of these antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash are not selective. 

“In other words, they do not target specific oral bacteria. Instead, these ingredients can act on a broad range of bacteria [including the protective ones].”

However, don’t prematurely rid your home of all mouthwash. The study only focused on people who were overweight, which is a risk factor for contracting Type 2 diabetes, and the theory needs more research before a link can be confirmed. 

The authors of the study recommend using mouthwash just once a day. 

“The indiscriminate routine use of antibacterial mouthwash products may cause more harm than good,” the authors of the study told the Telegraph, “in light of recent studies, and further supported by findings from this study.”

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