• Triclosan Antimicrobial Causes Liver Fibrosis and Cancer In Mice: Soap Has Its Dirty Side

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    As cold and flu season has come around again, it is very important to wash hands frequently in order to minimize the number of germs being spread around. Not all soaps are created equally though, and some may have a dirty side to them. A new study found that regular exposure to large doses of triclosan—a common antimicrobial ingredient in soaps and toothpaste—can aggravate liver fibrosis and tumors in mice when given in conjunction with other carcinogens.

    Triclosan is an antimicrobial commonly found in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and many other household items. Despite its widespread use, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report potentially serious consequences of long-term exposure to the chemical. The study, published Nov. 17 by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that triclosan causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice through molecular mechanisms that are also relevant in humans.

    “Triclosan’s increasing detection in environmental samples and its increasingly broad use in consumer products may overcome its moderate benefit and present a very real risk of liver toxicity for people, as it does in mice, particularly when combined with other compounds with similar action,” said Robert H. Tukey, PhD, professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Tukey led the study, together with Bruce D. Hammock, PhD, professor at University of California, Davis. Both Tukey and Hammock …

    This potential risk is highlighted by the fact that it hasn’t been shown to confer much, if any, advantage over certain non-antimicrobial products. If triclosan doesn’t even have a clear benefit to offer, it makes any risk seem fairly needless. The researchers report that traces of triclosan can readily be detected in the breast milk of nursing mothers, as well as in urine samples from 75% of adults. Triclosan does not bioaccumulate in the human body, but this does present some cause for concern and further investigation.

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