We teach kids to wash hands before we send them out to face the world, reinforcing the first line of defense: prevention, following the golden rule of prevention is better than cure. But what if the prevention may be causing greater harm?
Newest research regarding the safety of materials of has lead to the conclusion that some of our every day material contains a substance that causes severe hepatic toxicity in mice. Since the systems of mice bear remarkable similarities to that of humans, it has been speculated that this drug can prove to be equally harmful to us.
The study was published in November in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which evaluated a toxic substance known as Triclosan. Triclostan is a broad spectrum antibiotic and is found in almost all our products from soaps, toothpastes, shampoo in the washroom, cosmetics in the room, plastics everywhere and even yoga mats at home and gyms. This substance causes endocrine problems due to hormonal imbalance and is linked to infertility, muscular dysfunction and increased incidence of cancer. According to Robert H. Tukey, co-author of the study, “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.”
In their study, the researchers exposed mice to triclosan. The time period for this evaluation was 6 weeks, which is equivalent to 18 human years. The effects were staggering; these mice showed chemical induced tumors that were larger and tended to be larger than those tumors that occurred rarely in mice which were not exposed to triclosan.
The scientists concluded that these changes were due to damage to the androstane receptor in the liver, which is a protein that helps detoxify the body of harmful materials. Triclosan damages this protein and this injury leads to cell damage which promotes fibrosis and eventually tumor formation.
Triclostan is one of the most commonly used agents in the United States. Found in the milk of 97 percent of lactating mothers and in the urine specimens of almost 75 percent of people. Researchers suggest that there is a need to reduce the levels of this substance to low levels.
“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. Yet we could also for now retain uses shown to have health value — as in toothpaste, where the amount used is small,” said Bruce D. Hammock, PhD, who is a professor at the University of California.