Peroxide Tooth Whitener Safety Called Into Question?

August 09, 2004

Tooth whiteners, used either at a dentists' office or available as nonprescription kits often use carbamide peroxide as the tooth bleaching-whitening agent. One-third of carbamide peroxide is made up of hydrogen peroxide - a highly unstable-oxidizing agent. Some cancer specialists believe the use of these kits may partly explain the large jump in the number of cancer of the mouth cases in younger people. These tooth whiteners have become very popular in the last few years. Oral cancer usually was found in older people with a history of drinking and smoking. A researcher at Georgetown University Hospital, Bruce Davidson, MD, chairman of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery presented two cases last week, of two young men in their 20s who developed advanced tongue cancer decades before it usually develops, after repeatedly using tooth whitening products. The report was presented at the 6th International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

Anyone who has used hydrogen peroxide on a cut immediately notices the bubbling effect it causes - this is due to a bleaching-free radical generating reaction which kills bacteria and damages surrounding tissue. In your mouth escaping hydrogen peroxide from a poorly fitting tray can cause similar damage to the tongue and other tissues increasing the risk of oral cancer.

Intestinal Infections Controlled with Friendly Flora

Surgical removal of the colon is performed in greater than 10% of individuals with ulcerative colitis. Almost 50% of these people develop pouchitis, an inflammation of the pouch formed when reconnecting the remaining intestine to the anus. This seems to be caused by growth of the wrong kinds of bacteria in the intestine. Pouchitis leads to diarrhea, loose stools, and cramping pain. In a study, using friendly-probiotic bacteria in these patients immediately after surgery prevented pouchitis. In a second related study giving probiotic bacteria for one year to patients who had already developed pouchitis and were treated with antibiotics prevented its reoccurrence for a year. At the end of the study, 85% of the people given friendly flora remained free of the condition and only 6% of those on placebo remained free of pouchitis. The study is published in the January 2004 issue of Gut.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

Strains of bacteria considered to be a natural and healthy component of the intestine include Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidus. Studies show that supplementing with these healthy bacteria encourage healthy digestion and discourage intestinal infection in infants, adults and the elderly. They are needed for digesting fiber, beans (including flax and soy), cabbage vegetables and many other protective foods. A number of studies demonstrate that these beneficial bacteria crowd out yeast and help prevent a yeast overgrowth infection, and that they help prevent food poisoning bacteria from causing truly dangerous infections.