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If you have ever used a product that claims to fight odor or kill germs, you have most likely been exposed to the chemical triclosan.
Triclosan is the active ingredient in a wide range of antimicrobial products. From soap and toothpaste to cutting boards, socks, and yoga mats—triclosan acts as an antiseptic that keeps you and your surfaces clean. The problem is that triclosan is absorbed through the skin, showing up later in both breast milk and urine.
An active ingredient in antimicrobial products called triclosan can absorb directly into your skin. Triclosan absorption can impact hormones, fertility, and breast cancer risk.
Some studies assert that triclosan found in toiletries and cosmetics may pose the highest risk of absorption. (1)(2)
This past December, the FDA announced that it is now formally reconsidering its stance on antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan. According to Colleen Rogers, Ph.D. and lead microbiologist at the FDA, there currently is no evidence that antibacterial soaps are more effective than plain soap and water. (3)
She explains, "New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits."
What does triclosan do in your body? It largely affects your reproductive and hormonal systems.
Research shows that triclosan:
Triclosan contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance, which is becoming more common (and deadly) with each passing year. (8)(9)
Because triclosan doesn’t just stay on the surface of your skin, its antiseptic qualities penetrate into the body. This means that the microbes living inside your body also come into contact with triclosan.
One study published by a team of researchers at Stanford University found that you are more likely to carry extra weight with repeated exposure to triclosan. (10) As the researchers explain, triclosan “has the potential to alter both gut microbiota and endocrine function and thereby affect body weight.”
Watch out for allergies too. Recent research published in partnership with the CDC found that high levels of triclosan in children were associated with respiratory allergies. (11)
The new regulations on triclosan only affect soaps and body wash, requiring that manufacturers first demonstrate the safety of the chemical before including it in their product.
But what can you do about all the other products in your home that may contain triclosan?
Triclosan is the active ingredient found in numerous antimicrobial products, including soaps, toothpastes, and cutting boards. Unfortunately, triclosan is absorbed into the skin. Antimicrobial soaps containing triclosan have not been proven any more effective at cleaning than soap and water.
Triclosan is a risky ingredient that has a great effect on the body to:
What's more, triclosan can also contribute to antibiotic resistance—a potentially deadly epidemic sweeping the nation. Research shows that triclosan affects the healthy microbes in your body and can cause weight gain, as well as respiratory allergies in children.
You can rid your home of this harmful ingredient by reading product labels carefully and choosing safer alternatives to soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, baby toys, and antimicrobial kitchen surfaces.
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