As we’ve noted several times before, it pays to read beyond the headline, especially if it’s surprising, shocking or sensational. To wit:


So before you grab that Hershey bar, know that the study in question – published in Caries Research – actually didn’t involve chocolate at all. What it did involve is a compound called theobromine, which is found in cacao and some other plants. It’s naturally bitter and acts somewhat like caffeine on the nervous system (albeit to a lesser extent). It’s been used in medicine as a vasodilator (widening blood vessels) and diuretic.

Oh, yeah – it’s also the active ingredient in a toothpaste called Theodent (retail price for the extra-strength version: $99.99). And two founders of the company that makes it are listed as authors of the study, which was “funded by a research grant from Theodent.”

In fact, all such theobromine research we’ve seen thus far seems to have similar manufacturer ties and thus potential conflicts of interest.

Hence, the self-congratulatory tone of the press release:

A study published in the dental journal, Caries Research, [sic] confirmed what the inventors of Theodent™ toothpaste have been saying all along: that theobromine, an all-natural and organic compound found in chocolate, remineralizes and hardens tooth enamel at a greater rate than fluoride. The finding is significant because theobromine is the active ingredient in Rennou, the patented chocolate extract contained in Theodent toothpastes.

Full text of the study is available here.

In the meantime, as ever, be wary of hype – wherever it comes from.

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