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Drinking alcohol can be more than strong breath – it can screw up the balance between good and bad bacteria in your mouth, researchers said Monday.
This in turn could not only increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, but also cancer and heart disease.
Their findings, published in the journal Microbiome, may explain why people who drink more could die younger than people who drink less, and why alcohol consumption can cause cancer.
"Our study provides clear evidence that alcohol consumption is bad for maintaining a healthy microbial balance in the mouth and could explain why drinking as smoking leads to bacteria changes that are already linked to cancer and chronic diseases," said Jiyoung Ahn , Epidemiologist at NYL's Perlmutter Cancer Center Langone Health.
"My report provides further scientific justification for avoiding excessive drinking." D Rinking, "she added in a telephone interview.
Drinking alcohol kills many "good" bacteria and allows some potentially harmful bacteria to flourish in the mouth, they found
"Such changes may contribute to alcohol-related illnesses including periodontitis, head and neck cancer, and cancers of the digestive tract, "said the team.
Although people who drink lightly or moderately appear healthier than people who do not drink at all, more and more studies are beginning to show that even moderate drinking can damage one's health.
Drinkers are more likely to develop a number of cancers, as well as heart disease, and alcohol stress on the liver is well known
Heavy drinkers may notoriously also lose teeth and develop gum disease. Ahn's team set about determining whether some or all of these different types of damage are due to the effect of alcohol on the mouth's microbiome.
Microbiomas are the accumulation of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, and viruses that live in and on our bodies. They help digest food, protect against disease and cause disease.
People with imbalances may be more susceptible to obesity and asthma.
Researchers are trying to figure out what the elements of an optimal microbiome are, but the lack of detailed evidence has not stopped health food stores and websites from offering a range of "probiotic" products that are said to improve health.
The NYU team went to two major health surveys where people provided samples from their mouths for analysis and provided details about their drinking habits. In the end, there were details on more than 1,000 people, including 270 non-drinkers, 614 moderate drinkers, and 160 heavy drinkers.