Triclosan, a chemical ingredient most well known for its prevalence in hand sanitizers, can now add both heart disease and heart failure to the long list of health conditions found to be directly linked to its use.
Long used as a bactericide in personal care products such as toothpaste and deodorant, Triclosan’s real claim to fame began with the introduction of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, when their widespread reported effectiveness at killing 99.9% of “germs” – bacteria, fungus and other microbial organisms – living on the surface of our skin at any given time, skyrocketed sales through the roof around the globe. Germaphobes, misinformed and misguided parents everywhere stocked up on this new “silver bullet” against transmissible diseases and other microbial terrorists, soon making Triclosan a standard household name and ingredient.
Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that
“Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans.”
What this means is that until action is taken to get this common additive out of your toiletries, you could be applying a chemical with proven toxicity to your body multiple times a day …
Tricolsan impairs muscle function and skeletal muscle contractility. After mice in a study group were exposed to one dose of triclosan, heart muscle function was reduced by 25 percent, and grip strength was reduced by 18 percent. Fish were also exposed to triclosan – about the equivalent dose as would be accumulated in a week in the wild – and this led to poorer swimming performance. Researchers also exposed individual human muscle cells (from heart and skeletal muscles) to a triclosan dose similar to everyday-life exposure, and this, too, disrupted muscle function and caused both heart and skeletal muscles to fail.
Triclosan May Also Alter Hormone Regulation, which makes this substance even more scary with all of the other known hormone disrupting agents we content with on a daily basis. This ubiquitous chemical is a chlorinated aromatic compound and is used to help reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It’s commonly added to many antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes and certain cosmetics, as well as furniture, kitchenware, clothing and toys. A Toxicological Sciences study found that triclosan affected estrogen-mediated responses, and many chemicals that imitate estrogen are known to increase breast cancer risk. Triclosan also suppressed thyroid hormone in rats, and this is only one study in an accumulating body of research showing this chemical to be a potent endocrine disruptor.
Even the FDA states that “animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation” and that “other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.” Although they still maintain that triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans.
If you need more indication that triclosan is probably not the best ingredient to be brushing your teeth with or rubbing onto your underarms, consider that it was first registered with the EPA in 1969 … as a pesticide. Today it is still registered as a pesticide, although aside from this and its uses in personal care products, it’s also widely used for industrial uses, for instance it is incorporated in conveyor belts, fire hoses, dye bath vats, or ice-making equipment as an antimicrobial pesticide, as well as added to adhesives, fabrics, vinyl, plastics (toys, toothbrushes), polyethylene, polyurethane, polypropylene, floor wax emulsions, textiles (footwear, clothing), caulking compounds, sealants, rubber, carpeting, and a wide variety of other products.
The claimed “benefit” of adding an antimicrobial product like triclosan to your hand soap is that it should kill off more germs, and theoretically keep you healthier. On the contrary, there is little or no evidence that these triclosan-containing antibacterial products outperform the good-old-fashioned techniques like washing with soap and water. There is, however, evidence that plain soap is more effective than its antibacterial counterparts.
The decision to stop using products that contain triclosan is an easy way to positively impact your and your family’s health. There is simply no reason to ever purchase any product having triclosan in it. Triclosan is clearly listed on product ingredient labels, so you can easily check to see if it’s there before deciding on a purchase. Remember, this chemical is not only in soaps but also body washes, toothpaste, shampoo, and 140+ other home and personal care products. Unfortunately, triclosan is now also contaminating rivers, streams and sewage sludge that is applied to agricultural fields, so there is a chance you’re getting exposed from environmental sources as well.