Antibacterial soaps are found in millions of homes across the country. In an effort to “scrub away the germs,” people are taking what they think is an extra measure of safety by purchasing these soaps. Unfortunately not only are antibacterial soaps no more effective than washing with good old soap and water, but they also come with major health ramifications—a topic I have blogged on in the past.
- Increase the risk of hay fever and allergies in children and teens.
- Increase antibiotic resistance.
- Increase growth of nasal bacteria.
- Contaminate waterways.
Researchers recently found another reason to avoid these soaps. The main active ingredient in antibacterial soaps is triclosan, an endocrine-disrupting (hormone-disrupting) chemical (EDC) that acts like a hormone in the body and disrupts normal hormone function. A recent study published in the journal Chemical Research and Toxicology found that triclosan, as well as another antibacterial compound called octylphenol, interfered with genes involved in breast cancer cell growth, resulting in an increased growth of cancer cells in laboratory and animal studies.
“Although the doses of EDCs were somewhat high, we did this to stimulate their effects of daily exposure, as well as body accumulation due to long-term exposure,” noted Kyung-Chul Choi, PhD, lead researcher. “Exposure to EDCs may significantly increase the risk of breast cancer development and adversely affect human health.”
Triclosan is estimated to be found in urine samples of 75 percent of Americans. In May, the state of Minnesota banned antibacterial soaps, the first step toward phasing out these harmful, yet widespread, products. I hope other states follow suit.
If you were not aware of the dangers of antibacterial soaps before, it’s time to change soaps. Washing your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds is a highly effective way to remove germs from your hands. No toxic antibacterial compounds needed.