Anti-bacterial Soap: What is all the hype? Why was it banned in the US?
You might have heard, that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned anti-bacterial soap:
Let us see the reasons why? Also lets see if we should be apprehensive of this issue, even if we live in any other place, where it still is available legally?
Ok, that sounds like Greek…
So, let’s break it down so we are all on the same page.
What are the main reasons why this chemical has caused such an uproar?
1) Proliferation of Breast cancer
Triclosan has been now found to enhance the spread of Breast cancer cells. Breast Cancer is not only restricted to women, you may be surprised to know that men also can fall prey to it. (4)
2) Antibiotic resistance
It has been found, that this chemical may causing bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. The dawn of the superbug as the saying goes. In other words, when we are ill from any bacterial disease, antibiotics will have lesser of an effect, because the bacteria has become immune to the medicine. (5, 6)
3) Infertility, and Pregnancy outcome
In a study it was found that triclosan might affect fertility and the outcome of pregnancy. Thus it could be one of the causes of growing impotency. (7)
4) Environmental Effect
Water treatment plants cannot totally remove this chemical, thus it stays in the environment. It has also further been detected in breast milk, urine and plasma. (8)
Further to this, in a Swedish study, it was noted that the percentage was as high as three out of five samples of Breast Milk. (9)
As per the Centre for Disease control (CDC), it was found that Triclosan was detected in the urine of nearly 75% of the people tested. (10)
5) May effect the food chain
Even though the quantity in the eco-system might not be at a toxic level, Trisclosan has potential to affect lower species in the food chain, and thus get transferred to humans in the process.
6) Hormonal Disruption
It is thought that triclosan might also introduce hormonal imbalance.
It might disrupt the endocrine system (endocrine-disrupting agent), and specifically, effect the stability of the thyroid hormone and the reproductive system. In a study on the North American Bull-frog, this chemical was found to effect the thyroid hormone-associated gene expression. (11, 12, 13, 14)
7) Allergic reactions
Now, various studies have been carried out to check Triclosan in relation with allergies.
For one, 10 year old Norwegian children were studied and it was found that Triclosan was the cause of allergic reactions. (15)
In another study, it was found that triclosan might augment the allergic reaction of other allergens. (16)
8) Decrease in muscle strength
It was found that Triclosan reduces the ability of the heart and other muscles to contact and in effect is responsible for the loss of muscle strength. (17)
Related article: Preventing Muscle Mass Loss
9) Triclosan does not produce any additional benefits.
As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
It has been noted that, there no real benefit to the consumer if Triclosan is used in soap. So, it might just be wiser to stick to normal soap to get rid of germs. (18)
Are only antibacterial soaps of concern?
Now, Triclosan is not only present in anti-bacterial soap, it is also present in various other products, ranging from toothpaste, creams, dishwashing liquids. Manufacturers also introduced this chemical into textiles and toys, to make them resistant to bacteria.
How would you know if any item you are buying has Triclosan?
That is relatively simple. Manufacturers are required to display the ingredients of the product on the product itself. So simply read the ingredients label. Most antibacterial products will have Triclosan and/ or Triclocarban.
You can see for example, this tube of toothpaste has “Triclosan” as one of the listed ingredients.
The way forward:
Now, some manufacturers have already started phasing out Triclosan in their products. Notably in this aspect are companies like Johnson and Johnson (19), Procter & Gamble (20) and Kaiser permanente (21). Also many more are following in their footsteps.
So there is a growing awareness and movement to get this beast off the shelves.
Some chemicals that are being used instead of Triclosan are:
benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride or chloroxylenol.
Antibacterial Soap contains Triclosan, which can affect our health and the environment adversely.
Thus, it has been banned by the US FDA.
Even if you are not residing in the US, it would be a good idea to stop using products that contain this harmful ingredients.
If you like this article, consider sharing or leaving a comment.