Must-Read: Something Ruining Your Blood Pressure

Staying healthy is tough. Not only is it difficult — for example, it’s SO much easier to just sit there in your car and order drive-thru than it is to actually sit there and cook your food — but, occasionally, it’s also tough because things that are supposedly good for you are actually causing some stress. And it’s not until it’s too late that you ever even think about it.

And so today we’re heading on over to Men’s Health, where they have a little examination into a health habit that could actually be hurting your blood pressure. Here you go:

After 19 healthy people rinsed with an antiseptic mouthwash twice a day for a week, researchers found that their blood pressure increased 2 to 3.5 mm Hg?a bump that, if left alone, could up your risk cardiovascular disease by 7 percent, the study notes.

Antiseptic mouthwashes contain antimicrobial agents that kill oral bacteria to reduce the risk of plaque and gingivitis. But some oral bacteria are good and help form nitrites, which transform into nitric oxide?a substance that helps dilate and relax blood vessels. In the study, using mouthwash reduced nitrite production by 90 percent and nitrite levels in the blood by 25 percent.

Damning stuff, right? Well, there is a catch:

Here’s the catch: The study used a specific type of mouthwash that contained the ingredient chlorhexidine. In the U.S., mouthwashes with that ingredient are usually prescribed by a dentist?most OTC ones don’t contain it. It?s not clear yet whether other, less potent antiseptic ingredients in mouthwashes have the same result.

Which, as a lot of cases in science, means that the proof is not yet fully established. But maybe you still want to think twice before tossing back that mouthwash into your gullet.

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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.

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