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More Harm Than Good: Check Your Germicidal Soap

Aug 18th, 2012

germicidal soapWhen it comes to hand washing, most of us think that we need strong antibacterial soaps to prevent spreading germs. But we need to check the label to see if we are actually doing more harm than good. Your germicidal soap might contain triclosan, an effective antimicrobial agent that may also cause muscle impairment in humans.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that triclosan interferes with human muscle contractions at the cellular level. The chemical also affects muscle function in fish and mice.

Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment. These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health,” said study author Isaac Pessah.

Researchers studied how triclosan affects human cardiac and skeletal muscles in the laboratory. The team found that the chemical interferes with the signals between proteins which enable muscles to function. Blocking this communication causes malfunction in both types of muscle cells.

The team also studied triclosan’s effects on fish and mice. Reductions of cardiac muscle function and grip strength were noted by as much as 25 and 18 percent respectively. The fish also showed signs of inefficiency in movement after exposure to the agent.

What does this all mean?
There is strong evidence that the chemical can impair muscle function, and the scientists are concerned about its implications to human health and the environment.

“The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic. Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models,” said team member Nipavan Chiamvimonvat.

According to the FDA, antibacterial soaps with triclosan do not have any advantage over conventional soap and water. To be on the safe side, check the label and avoid soaps with triclosan, for now.

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