Time Magazine’s recent article “How Brushing Your Teeth Lowers Your Risk of Cancer” http://healthland.time.com/2013/08/21/how-brushing-your-teeth-lowers-your-risk-of-cancer/
discusses research from Cancer Prevention Research journal stating that “that poor oral health… is an independent risk factor for oral HPV infection, and by extension, could also contribute to oral cancers”.
While I am all for good oral hygiene, let’s not avoid the facts. Oral sex, even with brushing and flossing, can still cause cancer. While this is interesting research, my concern is that the article de-emphasizes the importance of the HPV vaccine. A proven method of preventing HPV associated cancers of the cervix and oropharynx.
The authors state “Even without a shot, however, the researchers say their results hint that it may be relatively easy to control HPV in the oropharynx — by brushing regularly and keeping the mouth environment clean.” Hint? Are you kidding? Stating that good oral hygiene may easily control the HPV virus contradicts years of medical research documenting the complex biology of cancer development and spread. The way to prevent HPV cancer is to ensure your children are vaccinated, avoid smoking and excessive drinking which are known risk factors. Good oral hygiene, good nutrition, rest, and a healthy lifestyle also help avoid disease. Let’s just make sure we have our facts straight.
Dr. Norleena Gullett is a Radiation Oncologist at Erlanger Cancer Institute in Chattanooga, TN. In addition to her medical expertise, she strives to offer emotional, psychological, and spiritual support in her care for her patients. She prides herself on treating you, the whole person, with the best care possible.