Triclosan May Impair Muscle Function
We already know that triclosan – the antibacterial added to many soaps, deodorants and hand sanitizers – is bad for public health and for the environment, but a new study shows that it might also impair muscle function.
According to research coming out of the University of California and the University of Colorado, animals exposed to triclosan experience problems with muscle activity. Often in studies like this, the animals are exposed to much higher amounts of a chemical than humans normally encounter, but in these studies researchers approximated the amount of triclosan that people would encounter in our day to day. Mice in one such study had decreased muscle contractions, including in their hearts.
Related Reading: The Dangers of Triclosan and How to Avoid It
Study co-author Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis said:
The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic. Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.
There needs to be more research before scientists can say for certain that triclosan could impair muscle function in humans, but in the meantime, keeping it out of your home is the best way to minimize your exposure. You can find triclosan in many cosmetics – from soap to toothpaste – so careful label-reading is your friend.
Triclosan has quite a few negative effects on our environment, but this research highlights an unexpected impact. Read about how muscle impairment could damage fragile ecosystems on the next page.
Muscle Impairment Could Damage Fragile Ecosystems
The researchers also looked at how triclosan affected muscle function in fish, since after it goes down our drains at home, triclosan eventually makes its way into rivers, lakes, and oceans. Fish exposed to triclosan for just one week had impaired swimming abilities, which in the wild would make them more vulnerable to predators. That means that triclosan in our water could be disrupting the balance of those ecosystems.
Bruce Hammock professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who was also a study co-author said:
We were surprised by the large degree to which muscle activity was impaired in very different organisms and in both cardiac and skeletal muscle. You can imagine in animals that depend so totally on muscle activity that even a 10-percent reduction in ability can make a real difference in their survival.
Because triclosan is such a common ingredient in over the counter products, we’re washing the stuff down our drains – and eventually into our water systems – every day. This research makes a strong case for getting the triclosan out of consumer products to protect wildlife.
Triclosan was always considered acceptable in hospitals, but this new research throws doubt on its safety in some clinical settings. On the next page, we’ll look at where more research is needed and where triclosan could be doing more harm than good.
Triclosan in Hospitals
Triclosan is ubiquitous in clinical settings. It’s a powerful antibacterial, which makes it useful for hospitals, for example, where infections can be deadly. Even in hospitals, though, this research calls triclosan’s usefulness into question.
Because it impairs muscle and heart function, triclosan could to more harm than good for patients with cardiovascular problems. There hasn’t been any research yet on whether triclosan has the same muscle-impairing effects on humans as it does on mice and fish. Chiamvimonvat explains:
In patients with underlying heart failure, triclosan could have significant effects because it is so widely used. However, without additional studies, it would be difficult for a physician to distinguish between natural disease progression and an environmental factor such as triclosan.
Triclosan is unregulated, which means you can find it in a myriad of consumer cosmetics. If you want to reduce your exposure, always read the ingredients on cosmetics before you buy. You might be surprised about where triclosan is hiding in your medicine cabinet.