Dental floss: Is it more harmful or healthful?

Dental floss may contribute to high levels of toxic chemicals in the body

Using some types of dental floss may contribute to elevated levels of toxic chemicals in the body which can lead to numerous health problems, a study claims.

The findings, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology(JESEE), provide new insight into how these chemicals end up in people’s bodies and how consumers can limit their exposures by modifying their behaviour.

The study has linked Oral-B Glide dental floss to toxic Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS are water- and grease-proof substances that have been linked with cancer, thyroid disease and fertility disorders, said researchers from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health in the US. PFAS are used in a range of consumer products, including fast food packaging, non-stick pans, waterproof clothing, and stain-resistant carpets.

People can be exposed to the substances directly through the products they use and the food they eat. They can also be exposed through indoor air and dust and contaminated drinking water.

Scientists are concerned about widespread exposure to PFAS in the population because the chemicals have been linked with health effects including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, decreased fertility, and effects on the immune system.

Researchers measured 11 different PFAS chemicals in blood samples taken from 178 middle-aged women enrolled in the Public Health Institute’s Child Health and Development Studies, a multi-generational study of the impact of environmental chemicals and other factors on disease. Half of the women in the analysis were non-Hispanic white and half were African American.

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