Friday, September 27, 2013

Why Antibacterial Soaps Are Risky and Pointless

germs photo: germs germs_zps7e1899d0.jpg
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It's that time of year when we look to cold and flu prevention. For decades antibacterial soap has been our first line of defense against germs, but research suggests the risks of these products may outweigh any benefits.


Antibacterial soap contains triclosan, a chemical that alters thyroid and testosterone levels and reproductive hormones. Though research has been conducted mostly on a variety of animals that have similar hormone systems to us, the conclusions are damning. It has been linked to infertility and thyroid problems.


1. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Volume 73, Issue 24, 2010
Maternal Exposure To Triclosan Impairs Thyroid Homeostasis and Female Pubertal Developmental In Female Wistar Rat Offspring

"Data indicate that triclosan impairs thyroid homeostasis and reproductive toxicity in adult rats and produces fetal toxicity in offspring exposed in utero, during lactation, and after weaning."

2. Toxicological Sciences, Accepted October 15, 2008.
The Effects of Triclosan on Puberty and Thyroid Hormones in Male Wistar Rats

Talks about how triclosan has been found to alter hormones in a variety of species. Studied the effect triclosan on thyroid and puberty development in the Wistar Rat. Serum testosterone and T3 and T4 levels (thyroid hormones) were significantly decreased with triclosan exposure. Conclusion: triclosan significantly affects the thyroid of the Wistar Rat, but has no impact on early puberty.

3. List of studies on PubMed concerning triclosan and thyroid. Too many to put here.


Research shows that washing hands with antibacterial soap is no more effective at removing germs than cleaning with plain soap and water.


2007 Sep 1;45 Suppl 2:S137-47.
Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky?

This review of existing scientific literature found antibacterial soap no more effective at preventing illness and reducing bacterial levels on hands than plain soap and water. It suggests that bacteria may adapt to antibacterial soaps, becoming more difficult to combat with medication. Twenty-seven studies were reviewed.

2004 Mar 2;140(5):321-9
Effect of antibacterial home cleaning and hand washing products on disease symptoms: a randomized, double blind trial

Concludes that tested products did not reduce incidence of disease.

The American Medical Association and Physicians for Social Responsibility now caution against the use of anti-bacterial soaps. Why are these products still used in doctors offices and hospitals?

Products That Contain Triclosan

The Environmental Working Group has compiled an extensive list of products and brands that contain triclosan. You will be astounded at how many every day products contain it.

My Thoughts

Yet another example of corporations and government regulators exposing us to chemicals without adequate safety testing. We tend to assume if it is on the shelf that means it has been vetted. In many cases that simply does not happen. It is a policy of innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately this can mean decades of exposure before we fully understand how these chemicals have harmed us.

I use Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap in reused foaming soap dispensers. I fill it half with Dr. Bronner's and half with water. It foams quite a bit.  A safe alternative to the toxic stuff and cuts my soap cost in half. A little Pinterest trick.


2000 Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association - Use of Antimicrobals in Consumer Products

Antibacterial Soap May Not Work - BBC News

Plain Soap as Good as Antibacterial - Web MD

Does Antibacterial Soap Increase The Risk Of Infertility - MSN News

Popular Antibacterial Soap Draws FDA Scrutiny - ABC News

New Health Concerns Over Lipstick, Antibacterial Soap - Fox News Insider

Microbiologists Find Soap and Water Best For Washing Hands, Removing Germs - Science Daily

***This post is linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Tags: toxic chemicals in every day products, triclosan, antibacterial soap,


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