Dentist: Coffee's dental benefits need more research

A recent study from the American Cancer Society that associates heavy coffee drinking with a reduced risk of death from oral cancer is being questioned by a dentist who specializes in oncology.

The study found that people who drank more than four cups of caffeinated coffee per day were at about half the risk of death of these often fatal cancers compared with those who only occasionally or who never drank coffee.

But Martin Hogan, DDS, who regularly assists in the diagnosis of oral cancer and works with oncology patients at Loyola University Health System, does not recommend that his patients drink coffee, according to a Loyola press release. Dr. Hogan said the study suggests some benefits from caffeine, but he would like to see more studies done to prove the correlation.

Coffee, along with tea and red wine, is a top cause of damage to tooth enamel, he added.

According to Dr. Hogan, risks for oral/pharyngeal cancers include alcohol consumption, smoking, chewing tobacco, biological factors such as fungi, viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV, especially strain 16 for oral cancers), and physical factors, including exposure to ultraviolet radiation and exposure to x-rays.

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