A new study reveals that triclosan, an ingredient widely used in several brands of toothpaste and antibacterial products, is not harmful. In some circles, triclosan is considered harmful to people’s health and there ware suspicions over its being an endocrine disruptor.
The survey aimed to establish whether triclosan affects the microbiomes of the gut and the mouth and if it interferes with the human endocrine system. According to the small study, the ingredient does not alter the gut or the mouth‘s microbiome and does not dramatically alter the endocrine system.
The human micobiome is made up of billions of bacteria living in the gut. As the study authors noted, changes in the human microbiome have been linked to the development of chronic metabolic diseases, including obesity and even diabetes.
Triclosan has been used since the 1960s, when it became an ingredient of many personal hygene products. The product became so wide-spread, the research noted, that traces of it were found in three quarters of human urine samples. That is why, the study aimed to address concerns that the prevalence of triclosan could cause antimicrobial resistance.
The small study was funded by U.S. National Institutes of Health and was conducted by a team lead by Dr. Julie Parsonnet. It involved 13 healthy people, who were asked to use both products containing triclosan and products in which the substance was not present.
Upon analyzing the participants’ oral, blood, urine and stool samples, the researchers concluded that the substance had little effect on the endocrine system. Similarly, triclosan did not have a significant impact on the mouth and gut’s microbiome. However, the study did reveal that those who used products containing it had significant levels of the substance in their urine samples.
According to Parsonnet, the results of the study should be “reassuring” to those who were fearful of triclosan’s effect on the human body.
Currently, not many products available on the market contain triclosan. Following a 2013 initiative by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the substance was removed from many soaps and body washes. The FDA was asking manufacturers to prove that antibacterial hygiene products containing triclosan are not harmful and that they are more efficient than regular soaps when it comes to preventing diseases.
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