Listerine Mouthwash Can Cause Oral Cancer. If you have used Listerine high-alcohol mouthwash and have been diagnosed with oral cancer, the mouthwash could be to blame. In 2008, Australian researchers concluded that people who use high-alcohol mouthwashes such as Listerine are more likely to develop oral cancer. According to one lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Listerine, was so concerned about the Australian study that it suppressed sales of an oral cancer screening test in order to avoid lending credence to the research.
Lawyers at the personal injury law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, who investigate product liability lawsuits, are investigating the possible link between Listerine and oral cancer. If you or a loved one have developed oral cancer and were a frequent user of Listerine high-alcohol mouthwash, we want to hear from you. Our Listerine oral cancer lawyers are offering free lawsuit evaluations to anyone who may have developed oral cancer due to this mouthwash. To make sure your legal rights are protected, we urge you to contact our Listerine oral cancer lawyers today.
High-Alcohol Mouthwash Increases Oral Cancer Risk
Oral cancer is a devastating and mutilating disease and is difficult to detect in its early stages, it kills in numbers comparable to much better-known cancers. Despite recent advances in therapy, the five-year survival rate for oral cancer remains around 50 percent. Even for patients who survive the disease, treatment for oral cancer can be seriously debilitating and disfiguring.
Alcohol cconsumption has been long established as a risk factor associated with oral cancer development. In 2008, a study published in the Dental Journal of Australia found that high-alcohol mouthwashes like Listerine often contain more alcohol than wine or beer. Listerine, which generates $1 billion in revenue for Johnson & Johnson, contains as much as 26 per cent alcohol.
The Australian study, which involved 3,210 people, found daily mouthwash use was a ‘significant risk factor’ for oral cancer. The effects were worse in smokers, who had a nine-fold increased risk of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx. Those who drank alcohol had more than five times the risk. The scientists found evidence that the ethanol in high-alcohol mouthwash increases the permeability of the mucosa to cancer-causing substances like nicotine. The toxic breakdown product of alcohol called acetaldehyde is also a carcinogen, and may accumulate in the oral cavity when swished around the mouth.
The study authors concluded that: “There is now sufficient evidence to accept the proposition that developing oral cancer is increased or contributed to by the use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes.” They also asserted that alcohol-containing mouthwashes “should be prescribed by dentists, like any other medication,” and be used for a limited period of time.
Johnson & Johnson Oral Cancer Test Lawsuit
When the Australian mouthwash study was published in 2008, it was dismissed by Johnson & Johnson. But according to a lawsuit filed in July 2011, the company was concerned that its findings could have a negative impact on Listerine sales. The lawsuit, filed by Oral Cancer Prevention Inc., claims that Johnson & Johnson suppressed sales of its oral cancer test to avoid giving credence to the Australian study.
Full-blown oral cancer is preceded by the appearance of white dots on the gums. But before the invention of the Oral CDx Brush Test, the only way to determine if these dots were precancerous was through a biopsy. The Oral CDx Brush Test easily brushes suspect cells away from the gums so they may be sent to a lab for testing, the lawsuit said.
According to the company’s lawsuit details, Oral Cancer Prevention Inc. signed a contract with Johnson & Johnson’s former OraPharma Inc. which granted OraPharma exclusive rights to distribute the Oral CDx Brush Test. But Johnson & Johnson was concerned about the 2008 Australian study, and did not want to “lend credence to the link between Listerine and oral cancer” by selling both its mouthwash and OralCDx. Johnson & Johnson induced OraPharma to breach the sales agreement to suppress sales of and withhold from the public a proven life-saving oral cancer prevention product,” the complaint claims. In its lawsuit, Oral Cancer Prevention Inc. claims 73,000 U.S. cases of oral cancer could have been prevented if Johnson & Johnson had allowed sales of the Oral CDx Brush Test.