Research: Hand Soap Chemical "Triclosan" Negatively Affects Muscular Contractions
August 16, 2012 8:47 AM
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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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RE: That's what you get
8/16/2012 11:03:33 AM
I've been skeptical of anti-bacterial additives to soap, preferring good old fashioned sanitizing alcohol, which works instantly and we collectively pretty well understand what it does. But seriously, walk down the hand sanitizers aisle at your local supermarket and read the ingredients list. If it's anything like what's available locally for me, they will have maybe one or two products with alcohol, and then 20 or 30 products with triclosan or another similar antibacterial additive. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers feel cool because they evaporate so fast, and they, well, smell like alcohol. Oh well, just one more reason to use tried and true, not new and fangled.
RE: That's what you get
8/16/2012 11:41:32 AM
Unless you have some kind of immuno deficiency you don't NEED to sanitize your hands, with alcohol or anything else. Just wash 'em, with regular soap and water after you've been to the bathroom or before you handle food.
Bacteria is normal to have on our hands. No need to freak out over it. Actually our skin depends on bacteria to maintain itself properly; excessively washing and sanitizing the skin distorts its pH level and causes dehydration etc. Both of which is bad for us.
RE: That's what you get
8/16/2012 12:38:35 PM
You're spot on in all you say.
Our commensal bacteria (microflora, as they are often called) are important to our health. They help regulate everything from our immune function to hormones. Of course, when people talk about them most are thinking about the bacteria in our guts, which are required for the digestion of our food and the production of vitamin K. But our skin bacteria are also critical for the long term healthy function of our skin (the biggest organ of our body).
Our harmless microflora also protect us from diseases and nasty bacteria that do cause damage.
The more we learn, the more we find the whole antibacterial fad was a really stupid idea. It's important in specific times and cases, but throwing antibacterials around everywhere is like using a nuke to get rid of an anthill. Many times the fallout is far worst than the problem it was trying to solve; and nevermind the resulting radioactive super ants which are now immune to the nukes and tearing through our cities.
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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