Why You Should Stop Using Antibacterial Soap January 20 2014, 0 Comments

For years, public health experts have said anti-bacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap and water and have even warned of the potential dangers of triclosan overuse – this isn’t new science.  Finally, on Dec. 16, 2013 the FDA issued a proposed rule that would require manufacturers to provide more substantial data to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps or pull their products from store shelves.

I recently read a great article by Joseph Stromberg at Smithsonianmag.com that lays out Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap. The article gives some pretty compelling reasons to stop using anti-bacterial soaps NOW; here’s a rundown:

1.) Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water.
"I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an antibacterial soap product, they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families," Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA's drug center, told the AP. "But we don't have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water."

2.) Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The reason that the FDA is making manufacturers prove these products' efficacy is because of a range of possible health risks associated with triclosan, and bacterial resistance is first on the list.
This is currently a huge (and scary) problem in medicine; the World Health Organization calls it a "threat to global health security."

3.) The soaps could act as endocrine disruptors. (Yikes!) Triclosan appears to interfere with the body's regulation of thyroid hormone, perhaps because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. There are worries that it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.

4.) The soaps might lead to other health problems, too. There's evidence that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development.

5.) Antibacterial soaps are bad for the environment. When we use a lot of triclosan in soap, that means a lot of triclosan gets flushed down the drain. Once in the environment, triclosan can disrupt algae's ability to perform photosynthesis.
The chemical is also fat-soluble-meaning that it builds up in fatty tissues-so scientists are concerned that it can biomagnify, appearing at greater levels in the tissues of animals higher up the food chain.

The bottom line: Washing your hands frequently with conventional soap and water is still the best way to prevent the spread of germs.  

Read the entire article here; smithsonianmag.com

To your health, you’re worth it.