Did you know that your soap has a secret? Studies that have been performed on mice and fish have revealed that a chemical in soaps may lead to weakened muscle contractions in the body. This chemical is called triclosan. Triclosan is used in soaps, cleansers, detergents, lipsticks, clothing, mouthwash, toothpaste, bedding, trash bags, deodorant and even toys for over 40 years.
What is Triclosan
Triclosan is an anti-bacterial agent. It is used to prevent or slow down the growth of bacteria in products. It is not water-soluble and can stay on the skin even after using a cleansing product (What is Triclosan?, 2102).
Studies on Laboratory Animals
Tests performed on mice showed a 25% reduction in heart function after a 20-minute exposure and 18% reduction in grip strength after a 60-minute exposure. Fish that swam in water tainted with triclosan for 7 days did not swim as well. The FDA is now reviewing this chemical for its potential harm to humans. They will release further findings at the end of the year that should shed more light on its effects on humans and if triclosan should be removed from products.
Studies have been found that triclosan may alter hormones in laboratory animals and cause them to be resistant to antibiotics. It is also shown to be an endocrine disruptor and there is a concern that minute exposure to triclosan at the wrong stage during fetal development could be harmful. Tests that have been performed on humans have found triclosan in urine, blood, breast milk and this has the CDC concerned. It is also showing up in our water supply (Barnett & Neporent, 2012).
Triclosan and Acne Products
Triclosan has been successfully used in acne products for the same anti-bacterial properties. It is an ingredient used in Clearasil Daily Face Wash. Over-the-counter products have a low concentration of 0.5% of triclosan in products. It is believed to be 99.6% effective against germs (What is Triclosan?, 2012). I recently went shopping for handsoap and found the percentages to be o.15% to 0.46% (Kroger brand and Dial handsoaps).
Because triclosan has the potential to make a person antibiotic resistant, it could cause new strains of bacteria. This means the creation of new antibiotics which could lead to further health problems. Reports have also shown that triclosan can react with chlorine in our water system and may form a carcinogen known as chloroform gas. Triclosan has also been associated with allergies (What is Triclosan, 2012).
I wonder if this is yet another reason why the rate of certain diseases have skyrocketed over the last 40 years. Read your labels carefully to see if triclosan is listed as the active ingredient and choose carefully.
To read more on this topic, click the following links:
Acne Treatment? (2012). AcneTreatment.org Retrieved, August 17, 2012, from http://www.acnetreatment.org/ingredients/triclosan
Barnett, S. & Neporent, L. (2012, August 14). ABC News. “Soap Ingredient Triclosan Linked to Muscle Weakness”. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/soap-ingredient-triclosan-linked-muscle-weakness/story?id=16996695
Interview with Dr. Mark Siegal on ABC News: http://xfinity.comcast.net/video/soap-s-dirty-secret-/2268125075/Comcast/2268211330/?cid=hero_sf_TIV
What is Triclosan? (2012, July 17). Federal Drug Administration. “Triclosan: What Consumers should know”. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm205999.htm