Research: Hand Soap Chemical "Triclosan" Negatively Affects Muscular Contractions
August 16, 2012 8:47 AM
Animal models were used to show reduced skeletal and cardiac muscle contractions after exposure to triclosan
A chemical commonly found in hand soaps (among other household products) has been found to be harmful to both humans and the environment.
chemical is called triclosan
, and it's a chemical that can be found in hand soaps, toothpastes, mouthwash, deodorants, clothes, bedding, carpets, toys, etc. It was introduced 40 years ago to prevent bacterial infections in hospitals. Over time, it has been used more and more for household purposes.
However, researchers at the University of California - Davis and the University of Colorado have discovered that triclosan actually affects muscular strength in mice, swimming in fish and muscular contractions in skeletal and cardiac cells.
The researchers reached these conclusions by first exposing living mice to doses of triclosan similar to that humans and animals would be in contact with on a daily basis. After 20 minutes of exposure, the mice had a 25 percent drop in heart function. They also had an 18 percent decrease in grip strength after an hour of exposure.
Next, researchers exposed fathead minnows to triclosan in order to see how the chemical affects life in waterways. After swimming in water containing triclosan for one week, the minnows experienced a huge drop in swimming speeds when participating in swimming tests of both normal conditions and those that simulate the threat of a predator chasing them.
Researchers then exposed isolated
heart and skeletal cells
to triclosan. The damage was significant, where triclosan disrupted molecular channels in muscle cells that guide the flow of calcium ions. This prevented protein communication that acts as these channels, leading to muscle failure in both the cardiac and skeletal cells.
"The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic," said Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, co-author of the study from UC Davis. "Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models."
More research is likely needed before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will do anything about it, but the researchers aren't looking to ban the chemical entirely -- they just want to greatly decrease its ubiquity in household products.
A separate study in 2010 also showed negative side effects associated with triclosan. University of Michigan researchers discovered that
triclosan caused immune system problems
in children under 18.
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