According to a new study, the individuals who drink more than the daily recommended limit of alcohol could likely harbor an unhealthy mix of bacteria in their mouths.
The researchers discovered that in comparison with nondrinkers, those who drank relatively heavily had fewer “good” bacteria in their mouths. They even were hosting more “bad” bacteria, including bugs, which have been linked to cancer, gum disease, and heart disease.
The research is one of the latest to look at what factors influence the human “microbiome,” the trillions of bacteria and the other microbes that dwell naturally in the body. Many studies have discovered links in between the makeup of the gut’s microbiome and the risks of different diseases. The studies, in general, have found that more diversity in the gut microbiome is better. By the suggestions of the research, an imbalance in the mouth’s microbiome may increase the risk of gum disease, cavities, heart disease, and various types of cancers.
Jiyoung Ahn, the senior researcher of NYU Langone Health in New York City, said that drinking habits are a natural factor that influences the oral microbiome. Heavy consumption of alcohol is linked to increased risks of gum disease and cancers of the neck and head. The research team of Ahn scrutinized the mouthwash samples from 1,044 adults of U.S. who were a part of two ongoing national cancer studies. Of those individuals, around one-quarter said that they were nondrinkers. Another 59 percent were moderate drinkers, and 15 percent were heavy drinkers.
“Heavy” is a term defined as consuming more than the recommended limit by the United States health officials, which is two drinks per day for men and one per day for women. The study, overall found that heavy drinkers tended to possess fewer Lactobacillales, a kind of “good” bacteria used commonly in probiotic supplements. Heavy drinkers typically also had higher levels of some “bad” bacteria, such as Actinomyces, Bacteroidales, and Neisseria species.
However, it is unclear as to what to make of the findings. A professor in dental medicine and microbiology at the Columbia University in New York City, Yiping Han, said that the findings do not tend to prove that alcohol, per se, explains the differences among study participants. Han said that the oral microbiome could get influenced by a wide array of factors, starting from diet, dental care, and tooth brushing, to income and the other demographics. Han further added that it is unclear as to how many individuals in the heavy drinking group may have been alcohol-dependent and those people may be markedly different from moderate drinkers and nondrinkers.