This Daily Habit Could Reduce Your Risk of Cancer by 20 Percent

You probably already do it, too!

Esophageal Cancer, woman smiling

If you want to reduce your risk of cancer, make sure are doing this one thing on the regular

You can probably imagine that just a few bad habits might increase your risk of cancer. But fortunately, one of your most powerful cancer-fighting tools is waiting in your bathroom as we speak. Yes, it’s time to take your dentist’s advice to heart; brushing your teeth regularly could stave off esophageal cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers at New York University analyzed bacteria samples from 122,000 people’s mouths, using a DNA test to identify each species. Then, they recorded how many participants developed esophageal cancer over the study’s 10-year period.

The final results, which were recently published in the journal Cancer Research, found that participants who had high levels of certain bacteria — namely, Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis — were up to 21 percent more likely to develop esophageal cancer. Another bacterial strain called Neisseria, on the other hand, appeared to decrease an individual’s risk of developing cancer. (What a Canadian oncologist wants you to understand about lung cancer.)

“Our study indicates that learning more about the role of oral microbiota may potentially lead to strategies to prevent esophageal cancer or at least to identify it at earlier stages,” lead author Professor Jiyoung Ahn said. “Esophageal cancer is a highly fatal cancer, and there is an urgent need for new avenues of prevention, risk stratification, and early detection.”

The best way to keep your mouth bacteria-free? Brush your teeth and visit your dentist regularly. Keep in mind that these findings don’t necessarily prove that mouth bacteria causes cancer. The increased risk could be due to gum disease, which arises from the bacterial presence, instead. Regardless, it can never hurt to brush up (pun intended!) on the top oral hygiene tips for healthy, whiter teeth.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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