Q: I recently read that hydrogen peroxide causes oral cancer. Is this true?

What our experts say:

For years I have been telling my patients about my 1/3 rule. Every night prior to sleep, mix a shot of peroxide with a shot of Listerine and a shot of water. 1/3,1/3,1/3.  Swish for 20 secs and spit.  3% hydrogen peroxide is the only type of peroxide you should put in your mouth.  Searching for articles that prove that hydrogen peroxide causes cancer has led me to find nothing. 3% hydrogen peroxide does not cause cancer. It does provide benefits. There are those who feel peroxide is a cancer cure, delivering oxygen.  Some physicians feel that it is safe to drink peroxide…. That is another story


Dr. Jason Kasarsky

Cosmetic Dentist

New York, New York

In my professional opinion, as a general and esthetic dentist, and as a toxicologist, I should state that every substance has a dose at which it projects thrapeutic and toxic profile.  Sometimes those concentration dosages are far apart, sometimes they are very near to each other.  FDA cleared products ensure that the concentrations provided in therapeutic formulations are safe to be used and they elicit a therapeutic effect.  Hydrogen peroxide is a very strong oxidizer, a scavanger for free radical (anti-oxidant like) generating complexes, which scavanges, if you will, other unpaired free radical linked compounds which are sometimes harmful.  Hydrogen Perioxide bleaches through this mechanism.  Of course, once the dosage surpases that dose that elicits the therapeutic effect it can cause harmful effects, like tissue sloghing and other progressive tissue breakdown, which may or may not lead to extreme conditions like cancer.  These extreme cases again depend on concentration and time exposure.  Therefore, it is extremely important to follow manufacturer and FDA recommendations and instructions, and be under the care and supervision of an expert clinician.

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