Antimicrobial chemicals are used in consumer products to prevent bacterial overgrowth. Triclosan is used in more than 2000 products such as toothpaste, cosmetics, kitchenware, toys and others. A study with mice, reported in Science Translational Medicine and reported in the Los Angeles Times Science File last week found that the exposure to triclosan not only increased inflammation in the colon but inceased the risk for colon cancer. The scientists found that the level of beneficial bacteria in mice fed triclosan were “particularly depleted.” Beneficial bifidobacterium bacteria have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut. There was suggestive evidence that the triclosan also activated genes that govern cancer growth.
This study was different from previous research, in that the levels of exposure were more similar to what humans experience.
The FDA ordered triclosan to be removed from soaps and sanitizers in 2016. In December, 2017 it decided that antiseptic products like triclosan and 23 others were not “generally recognized as safe and effective.” This included antibacterial soaps, body washes and fluoride toothpastes. In other words, if a cosmetic contains triclosan it needs to be included on the ingredient list on the product label.
Triclosan is still prevalent in products like cosmetics, yoga mats, other athletic clothes and gear, children’s toys, kitchenware, even some building materials like carpeting and paint and toothpastes (because it prevents gingivitis).
It affects the gastrointestinal tract and, at high doses has been associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones in some animals. This is very disconcerting. We are seeing significant increases in hypothyroidism and in gut disorders like SIBO and Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Are these from chemicals like triclosan?
For now, I strongly recommend you avoid it as much as possible. Read the labels on your consumer products, including your toothpaste! What more can we do? Let the EPA and the FDA know you are concerned about these kinds of products and that more testing of their effects needs to occur. Support organizations that keep watch over government agencies that regulate our lives and the products in our environment.