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This Month In Life
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    Remember when everyone was so excited about antibacterial products? Hand soaps, toothpastes, and hand sanitizers made it so easy to reduce or prevent the growth of bad bacteria so you’d stay healthier, fresher, and cleaner. Or so we thought. However, new research shows the common antibacterial agent triclosan may not be as safe as everyone once thought. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Is Antibacterial a Good Thing?

What you need to know about triclosan

Remember when everyone was so excited about antibacterial products? Hand soaps, toothpastes, and hand sanitizers made it so easy to reduce or prevent the growth of bad bacteria so you’d stay healthier, fresher, and cleaner. Or so we thought. However, new research shows the common antibacterial agent triclosan may not be as safe as everyone once thought.
What is triclosan, where is it found, and what are the dangers? Keep reading to find out.

A Pesticide Is Born

Developed in the 1960s as a pesticide, triclosan was later added to numerous personal care products such as soaps and body washes in an effort to kill germs. Triclosan has also been used as a preservative in water-based cosmetics such as makeup and aftershave. Because of its odor-fighting properties, the pesticide can be found in body sprays and deodorants. And once studies proved that triclosan has the ability to prevent gum disease, it was added to Colgate Total toothpaste.

To reduce bacterial contamination, triclosan is frequently found in certain brands of kitchenware, clothing, toys, mops, cleaning wipes, office supplies, paint, air filters, yoga mats, grout sealers, dehumidifiers, ear plugs, shower curtains, cutting boards, and furniture. Products containing triclosan are often labeled “antibacterial” or “odor-fighting” or “mildew-resistant.” Why is triclosan still used in these products? Because they aren’t regulated by the United States Federal Drug Administration and people still believe making everything antibacterial is a good thing.

Is it Effective?

To triclosan’s credit, it is good at killing germs. Because of this, it was thought that products made with triclosan would keep you from getting sick. Cold and flu season? Wash your hands with antibacterial soap to stay healthy, right? Wrong. Studies show that washing your hands with regular soap and water does just as good a job at keeping you from getting sick. So the next time you’re looking to buy hand soap, just go for the plain old soap.

Studies show that Colgate Total toothpaste, which contains triclosan, is effective at preventing gingivitis but is it worth the risk of other health conditions? Would you purposefully put pesticide in your mouth?

The Problem

The misuse of antibiotics like triclosan may be contributing to the problem of bacteria resistance. Many bacterial infections are becoming harder to treat because they’ve become resistant to the effects of antibiotics. Too much triclosan going through sinks also has the potential to harm water life as the triclosan makes its way into rivers and streams.

Studies are ongoing as to the effects of triclosan on humans, but from animal studies it’s suspected that the powerful antibiotic may do a lot more harm than good. When triclosan is used on your skin or in your mouth, small amounts are absorbed into the body. Studies show this pesticide may disrupt your hormones, lower your thyroid hormone levels, harm your immune system, cause skin irritations, put you at risk for cancer, and increase your chances of having allergies.

The Solution

Previously banned by the European Union, triclosan was defended for years by the FDA. Only in recent years has the FDA called triclosan into question. In the United States, manufacturers are now banned from using triclosan in soap and antiseptic washes.

To protect your future health and the health of the environment, it’s probably best that you avoid products that contain triclosan. Carefully look at the ingredient label on soaps, body washes, cosmetics, deodorants, and dish soap. If you see triclosan or its cousin triclocarban listed, throw it out. And don’t buy any products labeled as “antibacterial.”