When bacteria from your mouth enter your lungs, it’s linked to advanced-stage lung cancer and tumor progression, a finding that raises serious questions about the long-term use of face masks, which could potentially accelerate this process. A retired pathologist also called for research into face masks’ effects on nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal bacterial flora
It’s long been assumed that your lungs are a sterile environment, but it’s recently been discovered that microbes from your mouth frequently enter your lungs. This alteration in your lung microbiome has now been linked to advanced-stage lung cancer,[i] raising questions about long-term mask usage and the risk of chronic diseases like cancer.
The team of researchers, from New York University (NYU) Grossman School of Medicine, revealed that when lungs were “enriched” with oral commensals, or microorganisms from your mouth, advanced-stage lung cancer was more likely, and it was linked with worse prognosis and tumor progression as well.[ii] The use of masks — also known to colonize bacteria — could accelerate the inhalation of oral microbes into your lungs, potentially affecting cancer risk.
Oral Microbes in the Lungs Linked With Advanced Lung Cancer