Soap power: Handwash chemical linked to cancer

RT

Washing your hands with antibacterial soap may be dangerous, a new US study reveals. A chemical found in many liquid handwashes and other basic household products like shampoos and toothpaste has been linked to cancer.

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent of broad-spectrum and one of the most common additives used in a wide range of consumer products, from kitchenware to toys. Studies have also found traces of the chemical in 97 percent of breast milk samples from lactating women and in the urine of nearly three-quarters of people tested. Triclosan is also common in the environment, being one of the seven most-frequently detected compounds in streams across the US.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have found 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,” study leader Professor Robert H. Tukey stated in a press release. The full study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

Tukey found that triclosan disrupted liver integrity, compromising liver function in mouse models. Mice exposed to the chemical for six months (roughly said to be equivalent to 18 human years) were more susceptible to chemical-induced liver tumors. Their tumors also proved to be larger and more frequent than in mice not exposed to triclosan.



The researchers say triclosan may cause harm when interfering with a protein responsible for detoxifying foreign chemicals in the body, the so called constitutive androstane receptor. As a result, liver cells proliferate and turn fibrotic. In the long run, continued liver fibrosis boosts tumor formation.

Triclosan is under scrutiny by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency stated on its website that while it currently doesn’t have evidence that triclosan added to antibacterial soaps and body washes provides extra health benefits over soap and water, “consumers concerned about using hand and body soaps with triclosan should wash with regular soap and water.”



The US scientists also recommend avoiding products that contain triclosan, except for toothpastes where the amount used is small.



”We could reduce most human and environmental exposures by eliminating uses of triclosan that are high volume, but of low benefit, such as inclusion in liquid hand soaps,” one of the researchers, Professor Bruce D. Hammock of the University of California said.

Minnesota bans anti-bacterial chemical from soaps

Yahoo News

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It’s widely used nationwide as a germ-killing ingredient in soaps, deodorants and even toothpaste, but it’s being banned in Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday signed a bill to make Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products. The Minnesota House and Senate passed it earlier last week because of health and environmental concerns about the chemical. The ban isn’t due to take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, but one of its lead sponsors, state Sen. John Marty, predicted Monday that the odds are good that most manufacturers will phase out triclosan by then anyway.

“While this is an effort to ban triclosan from one of the 50 states, I think it will have a greater impact than that,” Marty said.

The Roseville Democrat said other states and the federal government are likely to act, too. And he said come companies are already catching on that there’s no marketing advantage to keeping triclosan in its products. He noted that Procter & Gamble’s Crest toothpaste is now marketing itself as triclosan-free.

Triclosan is used in an estimated 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold across the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency announced last year that it would revisit the safety of triclosan and other germ-killing ingredients used in personal cleaning products. While triclosan hasn’t been shown to be hazardous to humans, studies have raised concerns that it can disrupt hormones critical for reproduction and development, at least in lab animals, and contribute to the development of resistant bacteria.

Critics including the FDA say there’s no evidence that triclosan soaps are any more effective than washing with plain soap and water for preventing the spread of diseases. A University of Minnesota study published last year found increasing levels of triclosan in the sediments of several lakes, and that the chemical can break down in those waters into potentially harmful dioxins. Two months later, Dayton ordered all state agencies to stop buying hand soaps and dish and laundry cleaners containing triclosan.

The American Cleaning Institute had urged Dayton to veto the new bill, saying triclosan has been thoroughly researched and shown to provide important health benefits.

“Instead of letting federal regulators do their jobs, the legislation would take safe, effective and beneficial products off the shelves of Minnesota grocery, convenience and drug stores,” Douglas Troutman, the trade group’s vice president and counsel for governmental affairs, wrote in a letter to Dayton.

ACI spokesman Brian Sansoni said Minnesota is the only state to enact a ban so far. He said it remains to be seen whether any individual manufacturers would go to the expense of reformulating their products just for the Minnesota market or simply stop selling them in the state. He said triclosan is an issue best regulated at the federal level.

Under an FDA rule proposed in December, manufacturers of anti-bacterial hand soaps and body washes would have to demonstrate that their products are safe for daily use, and more effective than plain soap and water. Otherwise, they would need to reformulate these products or remove anti-bacterial claims from the labels. The agency is still taking public comments on the proposal.

Some manufacturers have announced plans over the last couple years to at least partially phase out triclosan. Procter & Gamble plans to finish dropping the chemical from its products this year. Johnson & Johnson plans to eliminate it from all its consumer products by 2015.

Household Chemicals Linked to Early Puberty, Infertility

MedicineNet.com, Nov. 18, 2010

A growing list of common household chemicals may be linked to reproductive health problems, including early puberty and infertility.The list includes phthalates, the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA), perfluorinated compounds found in nonstick cookware, flame retardants, the antibacterial agent triclosan, and mercury, according to experts speaking at a news conference sponsored by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition seeking to overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

There is a lack of data on many of the chemicals used today. “The absence of data does not mean they are safe.” One of the group’s issues with the TSCA is that it “grandfathered” in 62,000 chemicals without testing.
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