If You Do This in the Bathroom, Your Diabetes Risk Soars, Study Says

It seems like a healthy habit—but it could be doing more harm than good.

Diabetes is a complex and potentially serious condition—but the good news is, there are many ways to address it. Eating a healthy diet that's rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber is crucial. So is making sure to get enough exercise. Watching for symptoms is just as important; according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), out of the over 37 million Americans who have diabetes, one in five aren't even aware that they have the condition. (Note that we are talking here about Type 2 diabetes, which affects 90 to 95 percent of diabetes-sufferers, as per the CDC.)

It's important to know what can increase your risk factor for developing diabetes. Certain lifestyle choices and activities, along with other factors, can increase the likelihood that you'll be impacted by this disease. Read on to find out about one bathroom habit that researchers say puts you at a higher risk.

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There are different types of diabetes.

Doctor talking to patient.
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The term "diabetes" refers to a range of types of the disease. Their commonality is that diabetes affects the body's balance of blood sugar. "Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces," explains the World Health Organization (WHO). "Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose."

There are three main types of diabetes, according to the CDC. These are Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs when pregnant).

The WHO reports that in 2019, "diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths, and 48 percent of all deaths due to diabetes occurred before the age of 70 years." In addition, "another 460,000 kidney disease deaths were caused by diabetes, and raised blood glucose causes around 20 percent of cardiovascular deaths," says the site. They also noted that in the time between the years 2000 and 2019, age-standardized mortality rates from diabetes rose three percent.

READ THIS NEXT: If You Notice This in the Bathroom, Get Checked for Diabetes, Experts Say.

Varying factors may contribute to an increased risk of diabetes

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While the specific cause for diabetes is not yet known, "in all cases, sugar builds up in the bloodstream," explains the Mayo Clinic, noting that this occurs because the pancreas isn't producing enough insulin. "Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes may be caused by a combination of genetic or environmental factors. It is unclear what those factors may be," the site says. Since the exact cause hasn't been pinpointed, preventive measures can be crucial.

Family history is thought to be a contributing factor for Type 1 diabetes, according to the CDC. The CDC also cites family history, as well as age and physical exercise, as being some of the contributing factors for Type 2.

Studies have shown that losing weight—even a small amount—can reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Exercise and a healthy diet can be effective in lowering your risk. Surprising activities, such as drinking a certain beverage every day, can reduce your risk as well.

Diabetes is linked with oral health.

Woman brushing her teeth in the bathroom mirror.
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Various studies have revealed links between practicing good oral hygiene and a number of facets of our health. We now know, for example, that brushing and flossing your teeth daily can actually help slash your risk of Alzheimer's disease, while other oral hygiene habits can affect your heart health.

Taking care of your teeth is important when it comes to diabetes, too. "By reducing the body's resistance to infection, diabetes puts your gums at risk," warns the Mayo Clinic. "Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes, [and] research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels." The site advises that "regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control."

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Using mouthwash can have a negative impact on your health.

Hand pouring bottle of mouthwash into cap.
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While maintaining good oral health is vitally important for your overall wellness, you may want to leave mouthwash out of your daily routine. A study published by the British Dental Journal confirms "the importance of the oral microbiome in general health"—and also reveals that using mouthwash may be linked to an increased risk of prediabetes and diabetes.

For some, using mouthwash is part of their regular routine, but this activity can cause problems in more ways than one. "Researchers suggest that using mouthwash at least twice every day destroys 'friendly' oral bacteria, which can, in turn, alter blood sugar metabolism and promote diabetes, particularly for people who are already at high risk for the condition," said MedicalNewsToday.

"Compared with participants who did not use mouthwash, those who reported using mouthwash at least twice daily were 55 percent more likely to develop prediabetes or diabetes over three years," the site reported, while also noting that "there was no association between using mouthwash less than twice per day and the risk of prediabetes or diabetes, the researchers report."

You may want to reconsider making mouthwash part of your routine for other reasons, as well. Antiseptic mouthwash is thought to potentially damage the teeth, and rinsing with mouthwash after you brush your teeth, instead of before, is also thought to be possibly detrimental to your teeth. Some types of mouthwash may also interact negatively with the medication you're taking—specifically, two types of antibiotics that can cause dangerous side effects if used alongside mouthwash.

Luisa Colón
Luisa Colón is a writer, editor, and consultant based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, Latina, and many more. Read more
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