January 1, 2014
Three big reasons to avoid
antibacterial soaps
Happy New Year! I hope you rang in 2014 with joy and happiness. As 2013 was coming to a close, you may have seen reports that the FDA is going to take another look at hand soaps and body washes. I've told you many times through the years that you should avoid these anti-bacterial soaps for a couple of simple reasons. They don't work any better than regular soap and water for dealing with germs. And they could encourage antibiotic resistant germs. But there's a third reason to avoid these soaps: They're dangerous!

The FDA made international news in 2010 when it announced its concerns about the chemical triclosan in sanitizers, soaps, and even toothpaste. This chlorinated organic chemical has been in many extremely common products for decades.

A Congressman from Mass., Edward Markey, has been pushing for tighter control over triclosan and other chemicals dumped into consumer products. He says, "It's in our drinking water, it's in our rivers, and, as a result, it's in our bodies.... It's something that creates a danger."

Consider the disparity between European countries and the U.S. Soap and Detergent Association. Many sovereign countries have banned or restricted triclosan. Yet the Association, which represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products industry, minimized the concerns:

Brian Sansoni of the Association said: "These products and ingredients have been reviewed, regulated, and researched for decades. We believe the science strongly supports the safety and efficacy of these products. It's more important than ever that consumers continue to have access to these products. It's a time of increased threats from disease and germs."

Well, actually, they have never proven that these products work or that they are safe for long-term use. Now the FDA wants them to prove it once and for all.

We are facing a time of increased threats exactly because of situations like this. Triclosan is a very reactive chlorinated phenol compound. It can degrade to extremely toxic dioxins. It may be an endocrine disruptor on its own, or be transformed into one simply by light hitting the molecule in the water it contaminates. Most Americans have it in our bodies.

Research suggests that it can combine with chlorine in your water supply to generate chloroform, a known carcinogen. It is very stable in your body, and will last a long time.  As an endocrine disruptor, it could wreak havoc on your breasts, prostate, uterus, and more. "Endocrine disruptor" is a term for manmade chemicals that have extremely toxic hormone-like effects on your body. How do we know that the rise of infections in people is not due in part to the presence of chemicals like this in our bodies?

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I've warned against chemical laden soaps and especially antibacterial soaps ever since they arrived. The best defense against infection is a powerful immune system. Chemicals destroy your immune system. If you need topical antibacterial support, consider the wonders of essential oils like oregano and thyme. Please don't use chlorinated hydrocarbons like triclosan. Pesticide companies use this chemical in their products. And it is very long lasting in the environment.

My favorite soap is Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. It's quite pure and does a great job. You'll find it in most health food stores. Get rid of toothpaste containing antibacterials. Why would any regulator allow such a compound to enter your mouth?

Don't buy clothing laced with antibacterial or anti-odor chemicals. These organic chemicals can migrate right through your skin. And, because of their lipid soluble nature, wind up in the fat of your mammary glands, or move right through your blood-brain barrier into your nervous system. Instead, stick with natural fabrics.

Let's hope the FDA makes the right decision this time around. They didn't finalize anything in 2010. Maybe they will this time around.


Lyndsey Layton. Washington Post, April 8, 2010; http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/16/health/fda-antibacterial/

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