In 2016, the FDA issued a ruling banning use of the antibacterial compound triclosan in hand soaps and body washes. According to the FDA’s press release, “Some data suggested that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products — for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) — could pose health risks.”
Studies suggest that triclosan can disrupt thyroid function, alter hormone levels, weaken cardiac and skeletal muscle, and contribute to antibiotic resistance. So why is this ingredient still found in some brands of toothpaste?
Triclosan May Promote Cancerous Tumors
As an antibacterial, the use of triclosan in toothpaste is intended to reduce plaque and inflammation of the gums. However, recent animal studies indicate that the risks associated with triclosan may outweigh the benefits. That’s because new evidence suggests that triclosan exposure may also increase the risk of developing cancer. A 2014 study found that triclosan promoted the development of tumors in the livers of mice. Now a newer study finds that it may also contribute to cancer of the colon.
The most recent study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, tested the effects of triclosan on gut health. After briefly exposing mice to a relatively low dose of triclosan, the researchers found that it caused low-grade colonic inflammation, and exaggerated the development of colitis and colitis-associated colon cancer.
Additionally, treatment with triclosan significantly increased the development of IBD. “The chemical accelerated the development of colitis — inflammation that leads to rectal bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain, abdominal spasms in humans — and the growth of tumors,” says co-author Haixia Yang in an online news article. “Work in our lab suggests that this compound may have widespread health risks, including aggravating inflammation in the gut and promoting the development colon cancer by altering the gut microbiota, the community of microbes found in our intestines,” added Yang.
How Many Everyday Products Contain Triclosan?
If your toothpaste contains triclosan, you will see it listed under “active ingredients” on the product label. However, toothpaste isn’t the only place that triclosan is still used. It’s among the most widely used antimicrobial ingredients. And it can be found in more than 2,000 consumer products. Some of these products include antibacterial detergents and dish soaps, tooth whitening products, shaving products, creams and deodorants. So make sure to read labels before buying.
FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. Press Release. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sept 2016.
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Cherednichenko G, et al. Triclosan impairs excitation-contraction coupling and Ca2+ dynamics in striated muscle. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 Aug 13;109(35):14158-63.
Yueh MF, et al. The commonly used antimicrobial additive triclosan is a liver tumor promoter. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 2;111(48):17200-5.
Yang H, et al. A common antimicrobial additive increases colonic inflammation and colitis-associated colon tumorigenesis in mice. Sci Transl Med. 2018 May 30;10(443).
Triclosan, a common antimicrobial in toothpaste and other products, linked to inflammation and cancer in the gut. https://theconversation.com/triclosan-a-common-antimicrobial-in-toothpaste-and-other-products-linked-to-inflammation-and-cancer-in-the-gut-97432.
Triclosan, a Common Antimicrobial Ingredient in Toothpaste, Soaps, Linked to Colonic Inflammation, Altered Gut Microbiota. News Release. University of Massachusetts Amherst. May 2018.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”