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Alcohol Affects Oral Bacteria

8 months, 2 weeks ago

6663  0
Posted on May 09, 2018, 2 a.m.

Individuals who had one or more alcoholic drinks per day were found by this new study to have an overabundance of oral bacterias linked to gum disease, heart disease, and some cancers, as published in the journal Microbiome.


Researchers from NYU School of Medicine have published a study with findings linking alcohol to oral bacteria leading to disease, contrasting fewer drinks had fewer bacteria known to check growth of other harmful germs; stating the study proves drinking is bad for maintaining healthy balances of mouth microbes helping to explain why, much like smoking, it leads to bacterial changes linked to cancer and chronic diseases.  Roughly 10% of Americans are estimated to be heavy drinkers, defined as more than one drink daily for women, and more than two daily for men.

This is the first known study to directly compare drinking levels and effects on oral health and bacterias, giving hints of evidence that rebalancing some of the 700 bacterias of oral microbiome could possibly reverse some alcohol related health problems. Previous studies at NYU have linked alcohol to risks of gastrointestinal, neck and head cancers to changes in the mouth. Drinkers were found to have specifically more potentially harmful Actinomyces, Neisseria, and Bacteroidales species and fewer Lactobacillales bacteria meant to help prevent sickness.


1,044 healthy participants between the ages of 55-87 who were enrolled in other oral ongoing national cancer trials were involved in this study; who provided samples of oral microbiome and detailed information on alcohol consumption. Testing was conducted to genetically sort and quantify oral bacteria among the 160 heavy drinkers, 270 nondrinkers, and 614 moderate drinkers, which were plotted on graphs to determine which bacteria were more dominant or less in each group.


It was noted that findings were large enough to capture differences, but a larger sampling is required to assess microbiome differences among drinkers who only ingest beer, liquor, or wine. There were 101 wine only drinkers, 39 beer drinkers, and 26 who only drank liquor; and that the work is a long way off from determining if blocking or promoting any changes would lead to healthier bacteria levels as seen in nondrinkers.


Next phase is to determine biological mechanisms behind alcohols effect on oral microbiome. Possible explanations for imbalances may be alcohol acids making oral environments hostile for certain bacterias to grow; or buildup of harmful byproducts from alcohol breakdown.


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