APR 24, 2018 02:43 PM PDT

Drinkers Have More Harmful Mouth Bacteria

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

A new study has found that drinkers, those that have at least one alcoholic drink a day, have more harmful mouth bacteria than non-drinkers. In addition, drinkers had less beneficial mouth bacteria that keep dangerous microbes in check. The study, led by scientists at the NYU School of Medicine, has been reported in the journal Microbiome.

Researchers are learning more about how alcohol is connected to changes in the levels of certain bacteria in the mouth. / Image credit: MaxPixel

"Our study offers clear evidence that drinking is bad for maintaining a healthy balance of microbes in the mouth and could help explain why drinking, like smoking, leads to bacterial changes already tied to cancer and chronic disease," said study senior investigator and epidemiologist Jiyoung Ahn, Ph.D.

Ahn is the associate director of population sciences at NYU Langone Health's Perlmutter Cancer Center; she suggested that this work indicates that if a balance is restored in the microbial community residing in the mouth, the oral microbiome, it might reverse some of the health problems linked to drinking. There are about 700 different kinds of bacteria that can live in the human mouth, and scientists are just starting to understand how they affect our health.

In this study, the researchers assessed the oral microbiome of 1,044 people between the ages of 55 and 87, primarily white, who were enrolled in cancer trials. Genetic technology enabled the identification of all the strains of microbes carried by the participants in their saliva; the scientists also had detailed information about the alcohol consumption of participants and divided the individuals into one of three groups - moderate, heavy, and non-drinkers.

It was determined that there was more Bacteroidales, Actinomyces, and Neisseria bacteria, which have the potential to be harmful, in drinkers. Shifts in the levels of these bacteria have previously been associated with cirrhosis and pneumonia. Infections with Actinomyces can cause disease, Neisseria can cause meningitis.

The drinkers also carried fewer Lactobacillales, a type of bacteria often used in probiotic food supplements, and intended to prevent illness.

It remains to be seen if the drinking is directly responsible for the changes seen in the bacterial populations, or if it is due to some other factor that might be associated with drinking, like poor hygiene. 

Ahn knows there is much more work to be done and is planning on continuing these studies. Next, she and her team are aiming to understand the mechanisms that underlie changes in the microbiome due to alcohol. There is a lot more to do done, she noted before it’s known how the levels of different kinds of mouth bacterias can be manipulated, and what impact that might have.

Alcohol may also have a negative effect on gut bacteria, as explained in the video.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via NYU Langone Health, Microbiome

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 24, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 24, 2018
How the E. coli Bacterium Can Benefit Us
Often thought of as a dangerous germ, it seems that E. coli may be playing a helpful role in the uptake of iron....
AUG 28, 2018
Videos
AUG 28, 2018
What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Also caused RMSF, it is spread by ticks and is classified as a rickettsiosis, an infection caused by intracellular bacteria....
SEP 02, 2018
Videos
SEP 02, 2018
Identifying Food Poisoning
At least 30 different pathogens (and probably many more) contaminate foods we eat and sicken us in the process....
SEP 04, 2018
Drug Discovery
SEP 04, 2018
'Fosfomycin' Antibiotic Treatment to Combat Listeria Infections
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria that were long thought to be untreatable may now be treated with a powerful antibiotic according to a recent study published ...
SEP 06, 2018
Microbiology
SEP 06, 2018
The Oncomicrobiome - Linking Microbes and Cancer
Scientists want to know more about how the microbes we carry in and on us are related to cancer development....
OCT 22, 2018
Videos
OCT 22, 2018
Mad Cow Disease Identified in Scottish Cow
Stringent detection systems appear to be working, but cases still happen....
Loading Comments...