Popular mouthwash company hits back after expert warns product could increase risk of two deadly cancers

Woman carefully pouring blue mouthwash into a cup.
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

A well-known mouthwash brand "could increase risk of" cancer, according to some scientists who issued a warning over its usage. But the company has slammed the reports saying "there is no evidence that Listerine causes cancer".

One expert suggested that "most people should not be using" Listerine Cool Mint flavour mouthwash following a study which alleges it has connections with esophageal and colorectal cancer. However, Kenvue, an American consumer health company which owns Listerine along with other popular brands like Johnson's Baby and Aveeno, argues that it believes "the trial lacks several important design controls and adequate rigour" to draw such conclusions.

Researchers from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, discovered that two types of bacteria were more prevalent after three months of daily mouthwash use. The scientists identified two species of bacterium - Fusobacterium nucleatum and Streptococcus anginosus - both linked to cancer, were more abundant in the mouth after daily usage.

The academics suggest that the alcohol in the mouthwash may elevate the level of bacteria inside the mouth. Professor Chris Kenyon, a scientist at the university involved in the study, told the Daily Telegraph that using the mouthwash "could increase their risk of cancer and various infections."

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The expert also stated: "Most people should not be using it and if they do use it, they should use the preparations without alcohol and limit the use to a couple of days.", reports the Mirror.

Addressing the findings, a Kenvue representative told the Mirror: "Studies on the impact of Listerine on oral health have been published in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications for more than a century, making it one of the most extensively tested oral mouthwash brands in the world. We continuously evaluate the latest science. There is no evidence that Listerine causes cancer."

Previously, the New Jersey-based company commented to the Telegraph, saying: "Kenvue welcomes and encourages scientific advancements and exchanges to promote everyday health. Based on our initial review, the published trial lacks several important design controls and adequate rigour to make any conclusions about potential impact to human health."