It is noted by the FDA that antibacterial products are dangerous and are not more effective more effective than soap and water.
A new position on an antibacterial soap is announced by the FDA: manufacturers have one task, to show that it is both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they will have to take it off the shelves in the next few years.
The triclosan is a chemical used as an active ingredient in about 75 percent of liquid antibacterial soaps and 30 percent of bars and it was originally used in hospital settings, and it was adopted by manufacturers of soaps and other home products during the 1990s, eventually ballooning into an industry worth an estimated $1 billion. We started putting the chemical in wipes, hand gels, cutting boards, mattress pads and all sorts of home items as we try our best to eradicate any trace of bacteria from our environment.
We’ll give you five reasons why you probably shouldn’t wait that long to stop using antibacterial soaps.
- Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water.
In the 42 years of FDA research, along with countless independent studies, have no evidence that triclosan provides any health benefits as compared to old-fashioned soap.
Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA’s drug center, told the AP that she suspects there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an antibacterial soap product, they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families. But she also says that they don’t have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water.
Manufacturers say that they have evidence of the superior efficacy of the triclosan, but the disagreement stems from the use of different sorts of testing methods. It is proven that soaps with triclosan kill slightly more bacteria than conventional ones by tests that strictly measure the number of bacteria on a person’s hands after use.
But the data that the FDA wants is one that shows that this translates into an actual clinical benefit and so far, analyses of the health benefits don’t show any evidence that triclosan can reduce the transmission of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. This is because of the fact that antibacterial soaps specifically target bacteria, but not the viruses that cause the majority of seasonal colds and flu.
- Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The reason why manufacturers have to prove the efficacy of the products is because there are possible health risks associated with triclosan, and first on the list is bacterial resistance.
Resistance can be caused by the heavy use of antibiotics, which can result from a small subset of a bacteria population with a random mutation that allows it to survive exposure to the chemical, and if that chemical is used frequently, then it will kill other bacteria, but allow this resistant subset to proliferate. Chemical is useless against the strain of bacteria if this happens on a broad enough scale.
This actually is a huge problem in medicine because the World Health Organization thinks it is a “threat to global health security”. Resistance is acquired to several different drugs by some bacteria species. Before it can be said that triclosan is fueling resistance, a further research is needed, but several studies have hinted at the possibility.
- The soaps could act as endocrine disruptors.
Some studies have found that the triclosan in rats, frogs and other animals interferes with the body’s regulation of thyroid hormone because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. There are worries that if this is the case in humans, then it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.
- The soaps might lead to other health problems, too.
Children that have prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. It is speculated that this is a result of reduced exposure to bacteria.
There is another evidence that triclosan interfered with muscle contractions in human cells, as well as muscle activity in live mice and minnows. Other findings show that the chemical can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.
- Antibacterial soaps are bad for the environment.
If you use a lot of triclosan in soap, a lot of it gets flushed down the drain. A small quantity of this chemical can persist after treatment at sewage plants and it is frequently detected in streams and other bodies of water. When it is once in the environment, triclosan can disrupt the ability of the algae to perform photosynthesis. Scientists are concerned that this chemical can biomagnify because it is fat-soluble.
What should you do?
If you want to give up on antibacterial soap, like some companies did, then you have a couple options.
You can use a non-antibiotic hand sanitizer, like Purell, which doesn’t contain any triclosan and kills both bacteria and viruses with alcohol. The effectiveness of hand-washing depends on how long you wash for, just a quick squirt of sanitizer might be more effective when you have limited time.
Another option is to wash your hands with conventional soap and water because while alcohol from the hand sanitizer kills bacteria, it doesn’t remove dirt. But a simple hand wash should be enough, you don’t need hot water, and it is best if you scrub for 30 seconds to get properly clean.
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