Why You Should Care About Triclosan

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You may have read the recent reports about the dangers of triclosan in certain toothpastes and antibacterial hand washes that surfaced this week. While it seems like a new study touts the dangers of various ingredients every day, this is one you should listen to. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), triclosan can “disrupt hormones and can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria or ‘superbugs,’” which is why the council recommends that consumers avoid anything containing the ingredient. Sounds scary right? It really is. 

Additionally, the chemical has potentially hazardous environmental effects and has caused problems for animals as it is leached into soil. The NRDC also states “triclosan has been associated with asthma exacerbation in asthmatics (Savage, 2014), altered thyroid hormone production (Koeppe, 2013) and increased weight gain (Lankester, 2013).  On top of all these things, triclosan can behave like estrogen (Huang, 2014) [and] potentially make changes to our epigenome (little signs that help tell our genome where, when, and what to do).”

So, what should the average person do? The ingredient is common in many household and beauty items, but according to Irwin Smigel, DDS, creator of Supersmile, “many consumer companies are phasing out triclosan from their products.” To avoid it, check labels for both triclosan and its hazardous cousin triclocarban that is common in bar soaps. Stay away from items (including clothing and bedding!) that are labeled “antibacterial” and “antimicrobial.” Check resources like GoodGuide for triclosan-free alternatives, for example brands like Crest, Supersmile and Dr. Bronner’s are triclosan-free. Says Dr. Smigel, “I’ve always felt that the benefits were greatly outweighed by the potential harm in triclosan and that’s why I’ve never even considered using it in any Supersmile toothpastes.”

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