Individuals who routinely drink more than one alcoholic beverage every day have an overabundance of bad bacteria and less good bacteria in their mouths, a new study has found.
Compared to their non-drinking peers, drinkers have less good, such as Lactobacillales that help protect your gums, and more bad bacteria, such as certain Actinomyces, Bacteroidales, and Neisseria species that can lead to gum disease, heart problems and even some cancers.
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Publishing their findings in the science journal Microbiome, the study authors said the acids found in alcoholic drinks could make the oral environment hostile for certain bacteria to grow, hence the lower number of so-called good bacteria.
For the study, a group of more than 1,000 individuals had their saliva tested. The group included 270 non-drinkers, 614 moderate drinkers and 160 heavy drinkers.
The results show that the drinkers had more Bacteroidales, Actinomyces and Neisseria species of bacteria, all potentially harmful, as well as fewer Lactobacillales, a family of bacteria associated with a reduction of gum inflammation.
Talking about the findings of the study, Jiyoung Ahn, the study's senior investigator and an epidemiologist at the NYU School of Medicine, said: "heavy alcohol intake is a known risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including cancers (head and neck, esophagus, colon and breast), liver disease and cardiovascular diseases."