Triclosan is a chemical that is in soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics, deodorants, and many other products. The antibacterial agent is so common that it’s difficult to avoid. One study found triclosan in the bodies of 75 percent of people tested.
It’s also a grave danger to our health, according to many experts, altering hormones, interfering with muscle function, causing allergies, and spawning resistant germs.
Product manufacturers say triclosan is safe in humans, but Minnesota this week became the first state to ban the chemical. Now a top doctor is calling for a nationwide prohibition.
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“The ban that Minnesota has passed is a good first step, but this should have been done nationwide long ago,” David Brownstein, M.D., tells Newsmax Health. “We’ve known for a long time that triclosan is an endocrine disruptor. It should have been gotten rid of a long time ago.”
Dr. Brownstein, one of the nation’s top holistic practitioners, and other triclosan opponents charge that the use of the chemical is putting people at risk, and that any germ-killing power it has is causing more harm than good.
“Triclosan has estrogen effects on the body,” he said. “It has been linked to breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, and a whole host of other health problems.”
Children exposed to triclosan have a higher incidence of hay fever, according to a 2010 study. It’s also been linked to allergies and low levels of testosterone.
Triclosan is used in three-quarters of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A University of Michigan study found that plain soap is just as effective as triclosan-containing antibacterial washes in removing bacteria from hands and preventing illness.
“Studies have shown that triclosan does not decrease the rate of infection, and it also messes with the good bacteria on your skin, which is one of the factors that keeps you healthy,” said Dr. Brownstein, author of the Natural Way to Health
newsletter and 10 books on maintaining good health. “The human body is full of bacteria. We cannot live without it. People should be thankful they have good bacteria instead of trying to kill it with harmful chemicals.”
To minimize exposure to triclosan, it’s important to read labels closely. A product containing the chemical is supposed to list triclosan as an ingredient.
However, some consumer advocates say the presence of triclosan is often hidden, going unidentified on the labels of some products, especially dishwashing liquids.
Here are ways to lower your triclosan exposure:
- Stay away from products labeled “antibacterial,” “antimicrobial,” or “germ killing.
- Use nontoxic soap for hand-washing and bathing.
- Choose organic products when possible.
- Avoid "antibacterial" or "antimicrobial" household items such as cutting boards, towels, shoes, clothing, and bedding. The products are often impregnated with triclosan.
- In addition to triclosan, skip products that contain triclocarban. Triclocarban is a similar antibacterial chemical.
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