Howard Hughes may be the world's most famous germaphobe (he created a "germ-free" zone in his home where he would sit naked watching movies), but germ phobia seems pretty widespread these days.
More than 2,000 antibacterial products are sold, from hand soaps and toothpastes to household paints, and most contain the chemical triclosan (or its cousin, triclocarban).
The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing its use in soaps, and its decision is due in 2016. Minnesota banned its use in some products starting in 2017. But we think you should act now to get it out of your life.
There's growing evidence that the compound may trigger developmental and reproductive problems in humans.
One study found that 100 percent of pregnant women tested had triclosan in their blood, and many had it in umbilical-cord samples, meaning the fetus had it too.
Triclosan does clear from the body pretty quickly, but most folks are continually exposed.
Want to know what contains triclosan and triclocarban? Check www.beyondpesticides.org.
You still can slash your risk for colds, flu and gastric distress; just use soap, environmentally friendly cleansers and a touch of alcohol-based hand sanitizer when those things aren't available. Wash your hands frequently, and keep your immune system in germ-fighting shape: Get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly; get a blood test to check your vitamin D-2 level (it should be over 35); take half a men's over-50 multivitamin (gals too!) morning and night; and daily eat nine servings of fruits and veggies, get 30 minutes of physical activity and work up to walking 10,000 steps.
© 2014 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate