April 23, 2024

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Is Toothpaste Carcinogenic Due to Chemicals?

Is Toothpaste Carcinogenic Due to Chemicals?

Is Toothpaste Carcinogenic Due to Chemicals?

Recently, there has been concern about the carcinogenicity of toothpaste.

Some articles from internet media pointed out that several toothpaste ingredients (microplastics, triclosan, hydrogen peroxide) may increase the risk of cancer with long-term use.

What’s the truth behind this? Can these toothpastes really cause cancer? Let’s find out today.

Is Toothpaste Carcinogenic Due to Chemicals?


First, the conclusion: according to current research results, the toothpaste ingredients mentioned earlier do not pose the risks rumored.

Rumor 1: Microplastics in Toothpaste Cause Increased Cancer Risk in Oral Mucosa

It’s said that toothpaste contains microplastics. So, let’s first understand what microplastics are and why they are added to toothpaste.

Microplastics refer to plastic particles with a diameter less than 5 millimeters. In toothpaste, the diameter of microplastics can be much smaller than 5 millimeters, ranging from tens to hundreds of micrometers. These tiny plastic particles in toothpaste help remove dirt and stains from teeth, achieving a cleaning and whitening effect.

Of course, besides toothpaste, microplastics are also commonly found in cosmetics. In cosmetics, microplastics are often used as abrasives, stabilizers, fillers, or to increase the viscosity and texture of the product.

Rumor 1: Microplastics in toothpaste can damage oral mucosa and cause cancer.

Does microplastics in toothpaste cause damage to the oral mucosa? Currently, there is no clear scientific evidence that microplastics in toothpaste can cause damage to the oral mucosa through long-term accumulation. We can also consider from another perspective: when we chew, food particles of various sizes continuously rub against our oral mucosa, yet they do not wear it down. Therefore, the microplastics in toothpaste are even more insignificant.

Research on the effects of microplastics on human health is a relatively new field, and current studies mainly focus on the environmental impact of microplastics and their potential effects on the human body through the food chain. Microplastics can enter the human body through respiration and food intake.

A new study presented at the European United Gastroenterology Week in Vienna confirmed for the first time the presence of various types of microplastics in the human body. Bettina Liebmann, a researcher at the Austrian Environment Agency and author of the study report, said, “Stool is the first place where humans have seen microplastics in the body.”

In 2020, scientists in Rome found microplastic particles in the placenta of unborn babies for the first time, which were found in the placentas of four healthy women who were pregnant or giving birth. In March 2022, scientists at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands detected microplastics in human blood for the first time. Microplastics have also been found in drinking water, whether tap water or bottled water.

As for whether microplastics are harmful to the human body and whether they can cause cancer, current scientific research has not yet provided a definitive conclusion.

Rumor 2: Triclosan in Toothpaste Causes Cancer

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent widely used in various consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is often added to some antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpaste, and some cosmetics-regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Triclosan can also be found in clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys-not regulated by the FDA.

Triclosan was originally used as an insecticide in the 1960s. The FDA has reviewed the effectiveness data of triclosan in an all-purpose toothpaste, which showed that triclosan in the product can effectively prevent gingivitis. However, for most other products containing triclosan, the FDA has not received enough evidence to prove that these products are beneficial to human health.

Studies have shown that high doses of triclosan intake are associated with a decrease in certain thyroid hormone levels, but it is not clear what these findings mean for human health.

In an ongoing study, triclosan was found to potentially cause colitis. This study was conducted on mice at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The study showed that short-term exposure to low doses of triclosan can cause low-level colonic inflammation, eventually leading to exacerbated colitis and colitis-related colon cancer.

However, current research has only observed these effects in animal models, and data from human studies are still limited. The FDA is still studying the safety of triclosan, including whether long-term exposure to triclosan in animals will develop skin cancer, and whether triclosan will decompose into other chemicals on human skin after exposure to ultraviolet light, but so far, these studies have not been completed.

Although some studies suggest that triclosan may have negative effects on health, there is currently no definitive evidence that toothpaste containing triclosan is carcinogenic.

Rumor 3: Hydrogen Peroxide in Toothpaste Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer

Some toothpastes contain hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a common bleaching agent often added to whitening toothpaste to help remove common food stains on the tooth surface, making teeth appear whiter. In whitening toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide is usually used in combination with other ingredients (such as baking soda) to polish the tooth surface and gently remove stains, changing the color of the enamel surface.

Rumor 4: Using hydrogen peroxide toothpaste increases the risk of oral cancer.

A 2022 study systematically evaluated whether hydrogen peroxide used for teeth whitening has a carcinogenic effect on the oral mucosa. The results showed that hydrogen peroxide in toothpaste does not have a carcinogenic effect on the oral mucosa at all.

Generally speaking, the belief that hydrogen peroxide is “toxic” is because of its ability to produce free radicals, including hydroxyl radicals. Studies have shown that free radicals and their subsequent potential pathological damage through oxidation reactions with proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids may be related to aging, stroke, and other degenerative diseases. However, if used properly, the exposure of hydrogen peroxide in whitening treatment is minimal. The human body has various cellular and tissue-level defense mechanisms to prevent potential damage from hydrogen peroxide to cells and repair any damage.

Therefore, if used properly, the content of hydrogen peroxide in toothpaste is minimal, and due to effective metabolic defense mechanisms, it does not cause toxicity.

How to Select Toothpaste?

With so many types of toothpaste on the market, how should we choose?

  • Fluoride content: It is very important to choose toothpaste with sufficient fluoride. Fluoride can strengthen the enamel of teeth and help prevent cavities.
  • Sensitive teeth: If you have sensitive teeth, you should choose toothpaste specially designed for sensitive teeth, which usually contains ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to alleviate pain or discomfort.
  • Teeth whitening: Whitening toothpaste can help remove surface stains, making teeth appear brighter. However, long-term use may lead to increased tooth sensitivity.
  • Avoid abrasive ingredients: For example, toothpaste containing charcoal may wear down the enamel of teeth, leading to increased long-term sensitivity.
  • Toothpaste for children: When choosing toothpaste for children, consider their age and oral health needs. Children’s toothpaste usually contains lower fluoride content and has flavors and colors that appeal to children.
  • Correct brushing technique: In addition to choosing the right toothpaste, using the correct brushing technique is equally important. For example, brush teeth at a 45-degree angle, gently clean all surfaces of the teeth, and brush for at least two minutes each time.


Commercially available toothpaste, as long as it complies with relevant regulations and standards, is free of safety risks.

Triclosan, titanium dioxide, benzalkonium chloride, when added to toothpaste products according to national standards, will not harm human health.

Various natural or chemical ingredients may be toxic, and the key is to see which products these ingredients are allowed to be used in according to regulations and standards, and what are the limits of their use. Products added in accordance with relevant regulations are safe.

Is Toothpaste Carcinogenic Due to Chemicals?

(source:internet, reference only)

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