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Study finds regular consumption of stimulants affects saliva

By Dental Tribune International
November 26, 2019

VALENCIA, Spain: Studies on the effects that alcohol, tobacco and caffeine have on the biological and microbiological status of the oral cavity have shown that long-term consumption can alter the natural status. In the first pilot study of its kind, researchers have investigated whether alterations to the levels of cytokines occur in the saliva of patients who are frequent consumers of the three stimulating substances.

In the study, led by Dr Verónica Veses from the CEU Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia, the researchers focused on three cytokines, interleukin-1 alpha, tumour necrosis factor alpha and interferon gamma. Saliva swabs were taken from 50 patients from the CEU dental clinic, and participants were then put into groups according to their self-reported levels of consumption of caffeine, alcohol or tobacco.

“In our results, we detected that frequent consumers of large amounts of alcohol and tobacco show a greater presence of the three studied cytokines in their saliva, which predisposes them to suffer chronic inflammatory, periodontal or tumoural diseases in their oral cavity. Specifically, we detected that interleukin-1 alpha was the highest in alcohol consumers, and interferon gamma was higher among smokers,” explained Veses.

The results also showed that patients who consumed caffeine through drinking coffee and/or soft drinks also had higher levels of interferon gamma and tumour necrosis factor alpha than the participants who did not. “Only their levels of interleukin-1 alpha are lower than those registered among non-consumers,” noted Veses.

In a previous study, Veses and her team had detected a relation between consuming the stimulating substances and alteration of the levels of oral microflora. Now, this recent research is the first to show that the levels of cytokines in saliva are altered by prolonged consumption of the three substances.

The study, titled “Modulation of salivary cytokines in response to alcohol, tobacco and caffeine consumption: A pilot study”, was published on 12 November 2018 in Scientific Reports.

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