In today’s article on controversial chemicals in cosmetics, we turn our eyes to triclosan. Triclosan is found in a very wide range of products from cosmetics, soaps, detergents, toothpastes, shaving gels, deodorants, plastic utensils and food. It is used as an antibacterial and antifungal. We have great concerns over it, as like mineral oil, which we probed in the last article, it is potentially being used by children daily also. We actually found it in a soap we had in the kitchen and needless to say, we threw it away. The FDA have already banned triclosan from being used in soaps and body washes and its use in hospital and health care settings will now also be halted by the FDA. It is still used in toothpastes, with Colgate being a user for some products. In the UK it is still being used freely, which surprises us even more that the FDA had stepped in. As so many controversial chemicals do seem to be available for use in products, it makes you wonder just how bad the effects of triclosan on health can really be. The chemical Triclocarban is very closely related to triclosan and should also be avoided.
The FDA report that manufacturers have failed to prove that triclosan is more effective in soaps, than ordinary use of soap and water, when it comes to cleaning bacteria during hand washes. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb explained “There was a lack of safety and efficacy data”. Triclosan has been used for over four decades and the delay in its ban has left people such as Mae Wu, of the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), very concerned. The organisation sued the agency in 2010 for failing to finalise a proposal to ban triclosan back in 1978. In terms of the benefits of Triclosan, in 1997 the FDA reviewed effectiveness data on triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste. It was deemed that the product was effective in preventing gingivitis. We would recommend using coconut oil for oil pulling to deal with gingivitis, plaque and tartar as a natural alternative. The concerns over triclosan are many and studies have provided a solid foundation for these. Triclosan can be labelled as TSC and triclocarban (TCC) is another compound closely related to it and one to also look out for on labelling. One study conducted in Norway found links allergies and triclosan levels measured in children’s urine samples. The study discovered that triclosan levels were associated with elevated levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) and rhinitis in 10 years olds.
623 urine samples had been collected and measured at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, USA. Results found that in the region of 50% of the Norwegian children had detectable levels of triclosan. Despite a similar amount of exposure, around 80% of the American children had measurable levels of triclosan. Bacterial flora on the skin can changed by triclosan, as can bacterial flora in the mouth and intestines. Disturbance of bacterial balance can lead to an increased risk in the development of allergies. Previously, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have identified triclosan in the urine of 75% of people tested. It should be noted that triclosan is also lipophilic and accumulates in fatty tissues. A study into Taiwanese children also found triclosan in urine samples of children and adolescents in 2017. We have previously reported on how chemicals from cosmetics have been found in umbilical cord blood. You guessed it, triclosan is one of the chemicals which has been found there also. It has also been found in three out of five human milk samples during a study involving Swedish mothers (Allymr, M. et al 2006).
Fetal development in the early phase of pregnancy is a further source of great concern, if blood contaminated with triclosan is involved. Triclosan has been found to be endocrine disruptive in studies on rats. It was found that thyroid hormone concentrations were significantly impacted with triclosan exposure (Zorrilla, L.M., 2009). Furthermore, Ahn, K.C. et al, (2008) found triclosan to have exhibited antagonistic activity in both estrogen and androgen responsive bioassays and expressed the need for further studies into its biological and toxicologic effects.
Studies have led to the belief that triclosan may also promote antibiotic resistant bacteria. During several studies, there has been triclosan resistant micro-organisms discovered. This has included triclosan resistant forms of E-coli and salmonella being identified. Triclosan functions in a similar way to antibiotics and this has led to worries that bacteria which become resistant to triclosan, will also become resistant to antibiotics. Levy (2000) writes in his study summary:
Today, after greatly increased use, resistance to both antibiotics and antibacterials has appeared. Of importance there are genetic links between resistance to antibiotics and to antibacterials. Health professionals and the public need to be educated about the rational use of drugs that affect the microbial world.
More recent studies are leading to the conclusion that not only is triclosan having an impact on the bacteria of our skin, but our gut bacteria is being impacted by the chemical. Gao, B. et al (2017) concluded:
Triclosan exposure has a profound impact on the mouse gut microbiome…. To our best knowledge, this is the first evidence regarding the functional alterations of gut microbiome induced by triclosan exposure, which may provide novel mechanistic insights into triclosan exposure and associated diseases.
As the gut is home to 80% or so of the body’s immune system, this should be taken very seriously. Even more seriously, should be taken the words of study leader Professor Robert H. Tukey, from the University of Califormia, San Diego School of Medicine. His study revealed that mice exposed to triclosan for six months had significantly more liver fibrosis. The six months equates to approximately eighteen human years. Liver fibrosis is hardening of the tissues and it was also found that triclosan causes inflammation. Tukey commented:
“If you have a damaged cell that’s been attacked by a mutagen, triclosan promotes the development of the tumor. all the ingredients necessary for developing cancer”
The mice exposed to triclosan grew tumours that were both larger and more frequent than the study control mice. Surprisingly for Tukey, in addition to liver fibrosis some kidney fibrosis had also been discovered. An alarmed Tukey commented:
“there are really not a lot of environmental agents that have the potential to cause kidney fibrosis. It definitely is doing some nasty stuff with long-term exposure in these mice. It has contaminated virtually all of the waterways in the United States, many in the world. It’s the major contaminant in sediment in most lakes. It’s present really everywhere.”
Tukey is not alone when it comes to expressing grave environmental outlook. Triclosan is finding its way into sewage systems and non-agricultural environments were its effects can be long lasting on plants, soil dwelling biota and their predators. Biosolids contaminated with triclosan are having a negative effect on crop cultivation, with research finding a decrease in shoot mass for lettuce plants exposed to the chemical. Finally, aquatic life and fish are being found to have greater levels of triclosan accumulating in them. EWG’s cosmetic database score triclosan as a moderate to high danger, with 7 out of 10.
So, we find our way to the end of another article which has took some extensive research and reading. What we thought may be a shorter article this time, just seemed to grow and grow. We hope you will benefit from what we have found and as always, encourage further reading into triclosan and indeed triclocarban. Our references should be your first port of call! There really is no argument at all for triclosan, from what we have found. From what studies indicate, it doesn’t even do as much for you as washing with normal soap and water. The ever-mounting list of implications which can occur from its use, seem to go on and on. The fact that is used in so many children’s products is our greatest worry. This chemical is likely to be being used in children’s soaps up and down the UK and schools now encourage children to wash their hands so much.
We thank you for reading this and we hope it stimulates you to become more aware of what toxins you are potential feeding to yourself and your family. An informed mind is an educated mind. Another article will be coming soon and until then, stay healthy and stay toxin free!
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Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis — A preliminary report
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Antibiotic and antiseptic resistance: impact on public health