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Can Antibacterial Soap Make You Sick

Can antibacterial soap make you sick. There are all kinds of antibacterial products with chemicals that are making some people sick. Should you stop using these products.

There is an ingredient called triclosan in antibacterial soap that is actually making some people sick. Doctors have confirmed that this ingredient in antibacterial soaps can affect your thyroid gland and other areas of your health. This chemical is also found in at least 140 products including soap, toothpastes, cosmetics, clothing and children’s toys.

The Overuse of Antibacterial Soap

Antibacterial soaps have been used in hospitals to prevent the spread of bacteria, which is a good thing. But manufactures decided that they could make and sell these antimicrobial products and antibacterial soaps to the general public.

With the threat of flu epidemics and new types of flu, these antibacterial soaps became very popular. Even though the flu is a virus and antibacterial soaps have nothing to do with a virus. Still these soaps have been widely used for years now.

The overuse of antibacterial soaps has caused bacteria to mutate into stronger strains and become more immune to antibacterial soaps. Just like the over-prescribing of antibiotics has caused the same problem.

Some of the antibacterial soaps go after some of the same bacteria and germs that antibiotics go after, making this a double threat for creating super germs.

Health Problems Associated With Antibacterial Soap

Since the day we are born, we are surrounded with all kinds of bacteria and microbes, which is actually a good thing. Our bodies learn how to deal with this by building our immune systems.

Our body learns, remembers and builds defenses for all of this. It is thought that one health problem to our antibacterial lifestyle is the rise in allergies since we never give our bodies a chance to build a stronger immune system to these microbes and bacteria that float around us.

New studies and confirmation from doctors are showing that a certain ingredient in the antibacterial soaps is causing some people to become sick. This ingredient is triclosan.

Antibacterial Soap and the Thyroid Gland

There are actually two ingredients in these antibacterial products to be aware of, triclosan and triclocarban. You can get triclosan and triclocarban by ingesting it using toothpaste and mouthwash or you can get it through your skin with antibacterial soaps, cosmetics and many other products.

Some people have become overly fatigued and were diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Doctors are asking their patients if they use any of these antibacterial products and when they answer yes, the doctor asks them to stop using the product that contains triclosan.

Many times when these patients stop using the antibacterial soaps that do contain triclosan, they feel better and their thyroid conditions improve and some have even been able to reduce their thyroid medicine, all because they stopped using the antibacterial soap or other products containing triclosan.

Some doctors are concerned that if triclosan is damaging the thyroid, what it could be doing to other organs of the body.

Triclosan is thought to be what is called an endocrine disruptor that can interfere with normal thyroid function and can interfere with proper development of the nervous system and the brain of infants and children.

Triclosan and Hormone Disruption

Scientists at the University of California have found that triclosan can accumulate in our body. A 2007 study found that triclosan interferes with the signals that cells use in the brain, heart and to communicate with other cells [1]. This study also found that triclocarban disrupts hormone activity associated with the reproductive system and can artificially amplify hormones like estrogen and testosterone which could lead to prostate or breast cancer. Tests with male rats showed that triclocarban caused the prostate gland to grow abnormally large [2].

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), triclosan has been found in the urine of 75% of the people tested and is being found increasingly in breast milk [3].

Where Triclosan is Found

Triclosan was first registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a pesticide in 1969 and is a known toxic chemical. Not only is it approved and used in antibacterial soap, body soap and toothpaste it is also has industrial uses including ice-making machines, fire hoses, conveyor belts and commercial HVAC coils as an antimicrobial pesticide [4].

Antimicrobial means germ-killing and has the ability to stop the growth of bacteria, fungi and mildew. Triclosan was first used in operating rooms and hospitals as a scrub or soap. Once its patent expired it started appearing in all kinds of consumer products.

It is reported that triclosan is in 76% of liquid soap and 29% of bar soaps. Other products you might find it in include:

  • Body washes
  • Acne medicine
  • Toothpaste
  • Cosmetics
  • Mouthwash
  • Countertops
  • Knives
  • Cutting boards
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Shaving gels
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Workout clothes
  • Children’s toys

Triclosan in the Environment

Since these triclosan containing products have become so popular with the public, it is now one of the most commonly found chemicals in rivers and streams. A 2002 US Geological Survey found triclosan in 58% of the streams it tested. Triclosan can harm aquatic plants and aquatic life like fish, tadpoles and frogs. Eventually this chemical finds its way into the oceans harming ocean life as well.

Conclusion

The American Medical Association concludes that these antibacterial soaps do not do a better job than normal soap and hot water. Save the triclosan and antibacterial soaps for the hospitals and stick to normal soaps.

Like we have to do with our food, read the ingredients of your personal hygiene products and stay away from the triclosan containing products. If you don’t have soap and water, use the alcohol based hand sanitizers like Purell since most of these do not have triclosan.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) wants the FDA to ban all products that contain triclosan from children’s products or any product that comes into contact with food like knives and cutting boards [5].

The FDA is preparing a new report on the health dangers of triclosan in antibacterial soaps in the next few months. But so far the FDA has been delaying any decision on this chemical.

Copyright © February 2011 Sam Montana

Resources

[1] University of California - Davis (2007, December 8). Antibacterial Chemical Disrupts Hormone

[2] PubMed Endocrinology. 2008 Mar;149(3):1173-9. Epub 2007 Nov 29

[3] Center for Disease Control - Triclosan Fact Sheet

[4] EPA Triclosan Facts

[5] The Washington Post

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Comments (18)

I've been warning and complaining about these soaps for several years now. They were a bad idea that never should have been endorsed in the first place.

I never used that antibacterial soap because I know our bodies are suppose to be exposed to bacteria NOT chemicals!

Amen and amen.

What an alarming list of products. Thanks for such a well written article about antibacterial soap and its over-use.

Our supermarts and drugstores were flooded with antibacterial soap and skin soap, This is really alarming and must be send to the consumer association group, many thanks for this awareness Sam.

I have to admit my ignorance on this subject Sam. I wasn't aware of most of what you have reported in this article.

Geez, checking my labels now.

Jerry, the thyroid part of this I was not aware of either. I checked the labels around my house and to my surprise I didn't find one product with triclosan in it at least not yet.

Reminds me of Howard Hughes, the inventor of the Spruce Goose, who shut himself up in his mansion and wouldn't see a doctor because he preferred isolation. People keep trying to "bubble-wrap" themselves in an armor of chemicals, but this stuff kills. My friend will love this article! He makes his own toothpaste because of the chemicals in it.

I know triclosan used to be used in my contact solution, but no longer is. I think there was some health reason behind why it is no longer being used, but why is it still being used in such an array of products? Scary how government is supposed to regulate things to keep them safe for the public, yet the mighty dollar seems to ALWAYS come first!

very helpful article.xx

Very interesting, useful, and informative. I learned something new today. Thanks for posting. Vote up!

Excellent article

Voted up...very informative indeed!

Great article! I hate hate hate antibacterial products, and have tried in vain for many years to avoid such products because they contributed to my having severe eye allergies. Yet it seemed that everywhere I went after that, the doctor's office, public restroom, hairdresser - these places all had antibacterial products too! So annoying. Not to mention how awkward it is when receiving well-meaning gifts from others that are antibacterial. I used to love bath and body works! I guess it's a good thing I went to organic products...but honestly we still use antibacterial wipes for cleaning the kitchen counters, as I've not been convinced of anything else to keep them clean while living in a house with a kid and a cat!

Oh heck, we use antibac soap! Need to check and see if triclosan is an active ingredient! My sis des too and has an underacive thyroid!!! Thanks for th info, Sam, really well researched and well written article.

svann

I question the statemtent that antibacterial soap causes mutation into superbugs. AFAIK there is no biological mechanism that would cause that to happen. Animals species do become stronger when you cull the weak, but the mechanisms causing that is 1. more females to mate with for the stronger ones, and 2. more food to eat for the stronger ones. Neither mechanism makes any sense when speaking of germs. They dont mate and they dont compete for food supply since they have no food shortage.

I use Dr. Bronners or South of France! None of that for me!

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