Antibacterial Soaps – The Real Story

(BeWellBuzz) How many times during the day do you reach out for antibacterial soap, mouthwash or a face wash? Did you know that all these products contain Triclosan that can cause more harm than good?

Watch out, says the latest research findings appearing in many publications! One of the researches done at the University of California reveals how triclosan, one of the most potent ingredients in antibacterial soaps and cleaning agents can actually weaken the mechanism of muscle contraction.

Before we go any further to know how exactly triclosan damages our physiological system, let’s learn a bit more about this much talked-about chemical.

Triclosan – The Culprit

Primarily, an antibacterial and antifungal agent, triclosan is used as an antimicrobial active ingredient as well as a preservative in a vast range of products such as:

  • Personal care products such as toothpastes
  • Soaps, wipes, gels and detergents
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • Plastics such as chopping boards and lunch boxes
  • Mattresses
  • Natural health products

Apart from the above, in some countries, triclosan is also used a material preservative to prevent the growth of fungus, bacteria and  mildew in the process of manufacturing leather, textiles, paper, rubber and plastic.

The Damage – 5 Ways Triclosan Can Harm Your Body

With triclosan having such a prominent presence in the cleaning, health and manufacturing industry, the latest research findings are indeed a scare.

In the following section, we’ve listed out the most powerful ways in which this controversial chemical could harm you and just why you should think twice before you reach out to your antibacterial soap the next time.

1. It weakens muscle contractions

As its most hazardous impact, triclosan can impair your muscle function along with your body’s ability to contract muscles.  Latest research shows how triclosan can actually weaken your mechanism of contraction, both in the cardiac as well as the skeletal muscle. Put in laymen terms, when your heart loses its ability to contract muscles as required, you become increasingly vulnerable to diseases like cardiac arrest. A relevant study amongst mice showed up to 25 percent reduction in the cardiac function within 20 minutes of exposure.

The fact that triclosan is already being detected in at least 70% of the U.S. population makes such potential hazards worth paying attention to.

2. Alters hormonal balance

Specific studies conducted under the auspices of the FDA actually show that triclosan has the potential to harm your hormone regulation, basically effecting how your thyroid gland functions. Making protein receptors more sensitive to thyroid hormones and suppressing the serum thyroid hormone concentrations in your body, the triclosan hormone in your soap can actually alter the pace at which females reach puberty.

Following such reports, giants like Johnson & Johnson have declared their intentions to phase out the ingredient from their products by the year 2015, which speaks a lot about how harmful this chemical is.

3. An environmental hazard

Apart from being seen as a major hazard in your toiletries and other daily use products, triclosan is also been seen as a major threat to the environment. When you use toothpaste or a soap that carries triclosan, it gets washed down into the drain and can have a clogging effect in waste waters.

Eventually it passes into lakes, streams, rivers and other waterways and gets converted into an even more harmful agent, known as dioxin, considered to be a cancer-causing agent.

Interestingly enough, triclosan was actually first registered as a pesticide with the EPA in the year 1969, which reflects a lot on the chemical’s actual constitution.

4. Impairs your immunes system

Though triclosan was initially marketed as the key ingredient in cleaning agents, yet research shows that it can instead, impair you immune system. According to recent reports, the antimicrobials like triclosan can increase your vulnerability to infection if you are suffering from a chronic disease, making the bacteria in your body resistant to the effect of any antibiotics you might consume.

Moreover, there is substantive research to show that when you wash your hands with a triclosan-carrying antibacterial soap and chlorinated water, it could actually get converted into chloroform, another potentially dangerous chemical.

5. Can cause birth defects

Shockingly, reports and findings also state how an expectant mother’s exposure to triclosan can cause birth defects. Since the fetus is especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals, an exposure to this chemical even in the smallest proportions can cause serious and irreversible birth defects in newborns.

Time to act – Following the major uproar, in the next few years we might actually see manufacturers pull back this ingredient from their products. However, will it be worth the wait or would you prefer to stop using these products right away? Stay safe by using natural organic soaps, natural toothpastes, avoid plastics and conventional detergents.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know

Environmental Health Perspectives March 2008 116(3)–beware-triclosan-a-dangerous-chemical-in-many-household-products

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