Triclosan refers to a chemical ingredient found in many consumer products like soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, toys, shampoos and detergents. A new study shows that long term use of this antimicrobial agent may raise cancer susceptibility to humans.
A research linked the ubiquitous element in hygiene products to liver and cancer diseases. This case was however observed in lab mice with the scientists saying that the effect to humans is yet to be ascertained. Of course, to many of us, this new finding comes as no big surprise given the recent finding that Triclosan causes muscle impairment.
So, what this new study find? Feeding the mice with three grams of triclosan on a daily basis for six months caused liver damage to the mice as well as liver tumours. One of the researchers pointed out that, six months in mice is an equivalent of 18 years in human. They also observed that exposure to the chemical caused an interference with the receptor of the constitutive androstane, the protein that is responsible for clearing foreign chemicals from the body. The interference causes an imbalance in the liver resulting in proliferation of cells in the liver.
The fact that triclosan causes cancer may still be argued out, but it is quite clear that it creates very conducive conditions for its development. The chemical is also associated with risks of food allergy, a factor best explained by hygiene hypothesis.
Triclosan is commonly found in the environment as well, still with some negative effects. Its increasingly wide range of uses, particularly in consumer products, may beat its benefit and pose a real time risk of liver problems for people. This is even more so when it gets combined with compounds having a similar action.
Some suggestions that came in from the scientists included reduction of human exposures through the elimination of triclosan in products which uses it in high amounts but with low benefits such as in liquid soaps. For uses that have many beneficial health features such as in toothpaste, with relatively small amounts being used, it might be reasonable to retain it. It actually helps to treat gum diseases.
Some other scientists are however, still not convinced with the whole story. They claim that the mice used in the experiments were initially primed with a chemical that promotes tumour, something that humans would not have. They also claim that the triclosan concentrations used were higher than would be found in the environment.
Some other studies link the triclosan chemical with the regulation of hormones, mimicking the female gender. Others show that it promotes antibiotics resistance and prevent gingivitis. All in all, it has many beneficial and desirable properties that will make it quite difficult to discontinue its use.
Did you know that Triclosan is in your toothpaste?
Triclosan has also been linked to breast cancer