Mouthwash Linked to Diabetes

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More than 200 million Americans routinely swig and swish mouthwash to prevent tooth decay and bad breath. But new research suggests this seemingly healthy habit could increase risk for type 2 diabetes, particularly for those already at high risk for the disease. A three-year study involving 945 middle-aged, overweight adults found that using mouthwash at least twice a day was associated with a 55 percent higher risk for diabetes or the precursor to the condition, known as prediabetes. The study’s authors aren’t sure why, but they theorize that antibacterial agents added to mouthwashes, such as chlorhexidine and triclosan, may do more harm than good. These ingredients destroy the harmful bacteria responsible for gum disease and cavities. But they also wipe out “friendly” bacteria that are essential for the production of nitric oxide, a compound that helps regulate insulin, which in turn keeps blood sugar levels in check. “Mouthwash is often advertised for killing germs,” lead author Kaumudi Joshipura, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells Today.com. “Killing most or all oral bacteria is not necessarily a good thing.”

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