The Soap You Should Never Use But 75% of Households Do
by Joseph Mercola: If
You Can Never Seem to Get Truly Well, This Could Be Why...
The main compounds
in antibiotic wipes, creams and soaps triclosan and triclocarban
have been added to chopping boards, refrigerators, plastic
lunchboxes, and mattresses in an attempt to halt the spread of microbes.
show that these antibiotic chemicals are no more likely than regular
soap to prevent gastrointestinal or respiratory illness. In fact,
for chronically sick patients, antibiotic soaps were actually associated
with increases in the frequencies of fevers, runny noses and coughs.
do know is that the influence of these wipes and salves does not
end with our hands, but instead spreads from them down our drains
and out into society.
when antibiotic soaps and suds go down drains? To find out, a group
of scientists recently made artificial drains clogged with bacteria
... and then subjected them to low and high doses of triclosan ...
Triclosan kills 'weak' bacteria but favors the tolerant, among them
species of bacteria that eat triclosan ... Triclosan may also favor
lineages of bacteria that are also resistant to the oral antibiotics
used in hospitals".
there have been recent concerns about its possible effects on human
health and triclosan has been detected in human breast milk,
blood, and urine samples. A study evaluated the effects of triclosan
in female rats, and was found to advance the age at which the rats
hit puberty. Serum thyroid hormone concentrations were also
suppressed by triclosan.
the study, published in Toxicological Sciences:
triclosan affected estrogen-mediated responses in the pubertal and
weanling female rat and also suppressed thyroid hormone in both
of chemical disinfectants is credited to Joseph Lister, a late-19th
Century British surgeon who used carbolic acid to soak surgical
dressings. This practice dramatically reduced the number of post-surgical
infections, and spurred the eventual widespread use of disinfectants
in hospitals. But while disinfectants are extremely useful in a
hospital setting, they can do far more harm than good when used
on a daily basis in your home.
soaps and wipes are now used by an estimated 75 percent of all
American households, and by over-sanitizing our everyday
lives, we've invited a host of long-term harmful side effects, many
of which are already evident.
Safety of Triclosan
a synthetic, broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent used in a wide variety
of household- and personal care products, including:
wipes, gels, creams, and soaps
deodorant, cosmetics, and lotions
(cutting boards, lunch boxes, etc)
fabrics, and more
But, as reported
in the featured article, the evidence is actually stacked high against
the use of antimicrobial soaps and cleansers if you want to prevent
infection and preserve your long-term health. Studies have repeatedly
shown that regular soap is just as effective (sometimes even more
effective) than antimicrobial soap for the prevention of infectious
diseases. Furthermore, antimicrobials like triclosan may actually
increase your chances of contracting an infection if you already
have a chronic disease, promote the emergence of antibiotic-resistant
superbugs, and contaminate waterways and harms wildlife.
All in all,
triclosan appears to have NO redeeming value whatsoever outside
a hospital or surgery setting, and plenty of downsides…
Even the US
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken notice to the mounting
evidence. As of last year, the FDA
is conducting a scientific and regulatory review of triclosan
in FDA-regulated products. They've also partnered with other Federal
Agencies to study and assess the effects of triclosan on animal
and environmental health. According to the FDA:
studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation… Other
studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes
to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. In light of these studies,
the FDA is engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review
of this ingredient."
of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
began warning against the widespread use of triclosan almost
a decade ago. In a presentation at the 2000 Emerging Infectious
Diseases Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Stuart B. Levy from
Tufts University School of Medicine stated:
substances added to diverse household cleaning products are similar
to antibiotics in many ways. When used correctly, they inhibit bacterial
growth. However, their purpose is not to cure disease but to prevent
transmission of disease-causing microorganisms to non-infected persons.
Like antibiotics, these products can select resistant strains and,
therefore, overuse in the home can be expected to propagate
resistant microbial variants.
these agents, like antibiotics, are not cure-alls but have a designated
purpose. Whereas antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial (not
viral) infections, antibacterial products protect vulnerable patients
from infectious disease-causing organisms. Neither are demonstrably
useful in the healthy household. "
ALERT : Studies
Show Plain Soap is as Effective as Triclosan
A number of
studies now show that using chemical disinfectants in your home
and on your body is a waste of money and may be contributing to
decreased health. For starters, a 2008
meta-analysis of all the experimental studies published in English
between 1980 and 2006 on the effectiveness of different hand washing
techniques to combat gastrointestinal- and respiratory illness concluded
that non-bacterial soap was effective for preventing both gastrointestinal
and respiratory illnesses, and that triclosan-containing soaps and
wipes had no apparent advantage over plain soap in this
In fact, in
study, people who washed their hands with plain soap and water
were able to reduce the incidence of childhood diarrhea by 53 percent.
Those who used antibiotic soap containing 1.2 percent triclocarban
actually experienced slightly higher incidence of illness.
study, published in 2004, found no difference in effectiveness
between the two types of soap when used by healthy subjects. However,
chronically ill subjects, such as diabetics and asthmatics, experienced
more fevers, runny noses and cough when they used antibacterial
soap! So, for those of you who believe you're doing your family
a favor by making sure there's antibacterial soap by every sink
and plenty of antibacterial wipes for every conceivable surface,
perhaps it's time to reconsider your strategy...
Hazards of Triclosan
lipophilic, which means it can bioaccumulate in your fat for long,
periods of time, and as reported by Scientific American,
triclosan is now detectable in human breast milk, blood, and urine
samples. In one Swedish
study, high levels of triclosan were found in three out
of five breast milk samples!
triclosan (which is the active ingredient in most antibacterial
soap) kills not only disease-causing bacteria; it also has been
shown to kill beneficial bacteria and even
human cells, so this is clearly not a chemical you want floating
around in your blood stream or breast milk. This ability to decimate
both beneficial and harmful bacteria may explain why these types
of soaps appear to be less effective for chronically ill people,
and why they may promote allergic
diseases like asthma and hay fever.
have also shown that triclosan acts as a synthetic endocrine disrupter.
It only takes 0.15 parts per billion of triclosan to disrupt a hormone
signaling system in frogs a system that mirrors the one found
in humans. It's also been found to promote antibiotic-resistant
disease and other health problems. Some of these findings include:
- A 2006
animal study indicated that triclosan makes thyroid hormones
much more potent, speeding up their impact. It may also make protein
receptors more sensitive to thyroid hormones.
- A more recent
study published in 2010 showed that triclosan has endocrine-disrupting
effects in male western mosquitofish.
- In a study
evaluating the effects of triclosan in female rats, the chemical
was found to advance the age at which the rats hit puberty.
Serum thyroid hormone concentrations were also suppressed.
in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health
found that the chemical had a marked hypothermic effect. It lowered
the body temperature and caused a "nonspecific depressant effect
on the central nervous system" in mice.
- A 2003
study published in the Lancet of Infectious Diseases
identified antibacterial cleaning and hygiene products as an emerging
risk factor for antibiotic resistance by effectively killing weaker
bacteria, while favoring the more tolerant varieties, including
one that feeds on triclosan!
If you use
cleaning products in conjunction with chlorinated tap water,
you may be exposing yourself to yet another hazard because when
triclosan mixes with chlorine, chloroform is formed.
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chloroform is a "probable
human carcinogen." When conducting testing that closely mirrored
typical dishwashing habits and conditions, researchers found that
triclosan reacts with free chlorine to generate more than 50 parts
per billion (ppb) of chloroform in your dishwater. According to
researchers, when combined with other disinfection
byproducts (DBPs) the additional chloroform could easily drive
the concentration of total trihalomethanes above the EPA's maximum
But the harmful
effects of triclosan do not end there...
Impact of Antibacterial Household Products
Once that water
flows down your drain, these antimicrobials contaminate the environment,
become part of the food chain, and further contribute to the increase
in resistance of pathogens to clinical antibiotics.
have determined that about 75 percent of another popular
antimicrobial, triclocarban (TCC), resists water treatments meant
to break it down and ends up in surface water, and in municipal
sludge used as fertilizer. And, according
to Scientific American, triclosan can also be found in relatively
high concentrations in many municipal water supplies. So, in the
end, you're likely to end up drinking these chemicals
it as well, unless you're using a good water filter.
How to Identify
I do not see the need to ever use antibacterial products in your
home. They do not have any advantage over regular soap and water,
and increase your risk of long-term health problems by promoting
antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is already a public
health threat of very serious proportions.
To avoid accidentally
purchasing triclosan-containing products, make sure to read the
labels of everything you buy. Personal care products containing
triclosan are considered over-the-counter drugs, and are therefore
required to list triclosan in the drug facts box on the label. It
must also be included in the list of ingredients.
can also be found in other products, under different names, such
when used in plastics and clothing
when used in acrylic fibers
– trichloro-2'-hydroxydiphenyl ether
to basics is often the best advice, and that definitely applies
here. Good old-fashioned hand washing with plain soap and water
is one of the oldest and most powerful antibacterial treatments
there is; no harsh disinfectants or microbial soaps required.
It has been shown time and time again that washing your hands with
soap and water can kill germs that cause:
common cold and influenza
infections such as salmonella, E.coli, campylobacter and norovirus
What you do
need, however, is proper hand washing technique. To make sure
you're actually removing the germs when you wash your hands, follow
- Use warm
- Use a mild
- Work up
a good lather, all the way up to your wrists, for at least 10
or 15 seconds
- Make sure
you cover all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists,
between your fingers, and around and below your fingernails
- Rinse thoroughly
under running water
- In public
places, use a paper towel to open the door as a protection from
germs that the handles may harbor
that your skin is actually your primary defense against
bacteria not the soap. So resist the urge to become obsessive
about washing your hands. Washing too vigorously or too frequently
can extract many of the protective oils in your skin. This can cause
your skin to crack and potentially even bleed, providing germs a
point of entry into your body where they can do more harm. So mild
to moderate washing is really all you need.
Home Clean Without Chemical Disinfectants
I also encourage
you to ditch all of your chemical household disinfectants, such
as antibacterial dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, and bath
and kitchen cleansers, in favor of more natural alternatives.
in the studies mentioned earlier, disinfecting your home does not
lead to any measurable reduction of illness. On the contrary, if
anyone in your household has a chronic illness like diabetes or
asthma, for example, they may be at a slightly increased risk of
infections when they're exposed to antibacterial soaps and detergents.
mild soap and water, which you can use on most surfaces, another
all-purpose cleanser that works great for kitchen counters, cutting
boards and bathrooms is 3%
hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Simply put each liquid into a
separate spray bottle, then spray the surface with one, followed
by the other. In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella,
Shigella, and E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and
surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination
more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than
chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.
The best results came from using one mist right after the other
it's 10 times more effective than using either spray by itself
and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide
in one sprayer. As an added bonus aside from the health benefits,
using this type of natural homemade cleanser is much less expensive
than commercial varieties.
another powerful disinfectant, and drying your laundry in the sun
is one of the best ways to save energy and wind up with fresh, clean
linens and clothing.
2011 Dr. Joseph Mercola
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