Hand Sanitizer and TriclosanI know, I know… another article about antibacterial soaps!  BUT, is there anybody listening out there?  Why do we continue this absolutely tragic method of protecting ourselves?  Would we shoot ourselves in the head because a venomous snake had wrapped itself around our face?

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  reveals that exposure to triclosan is linked with muscle function impairments in humans and mice, as well as slowing the swimming of fish. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado decided to examine the possible effects of triclosan due to recent literature raising health concerns about the chemical.

Here’s what they had to say:  “We consider [triclosan] a high volume chemical,” Dr. Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the study’s lead author, told FoxNews.com.  “… the levels in humans have been increasing since it was first used as an antibacterial agent in the early ‘70s.  … including plasma, urine and breast milk….”

“The levels in the environment have been increasing as well, because it can’t all be trapped in the treatment plants,” Pessah added about triclosan’s prevalence.  “[Companies] try to prevent some chemicals getting out past the water treatment plants so they can dispose of them in a different way, but they can’t capture all of [triclosan] because there is so much of it.”

Effects on muscle contraction

After exposing the cells to levels of triclosan similar to amounts people use daily, Pessah and his colleagues found that the chemical greatly interfered with the muscles’ ability to contract when stimulated, a response known as ‘excitation-contraction coupling.’  “…triclosan essentially impaired ECC in both cardiac muscle cells and skeletal muscle cells…It did so at relatively low concentrations and relatively quickly.”

Triclosan in mice resulted in an 18 percent reduction in gripping strength as well as a 25 percent reduction in heart function – all within an hour of the chemical’s introduction.  Exposure to fathead minnows, resulted in a significant reduction in swimming activity.

So… what does that mean for us?

While the results of the study are staggering, Pessah noted that usage of triclosan will not lead to immediate heart failure.  Most people are able to metabolize triclosan quickly so that it is readily excreted through urine (but we’re not supposed to worry about that!).  But a portion of the population does not metabolize the compound as quickly, and the chemical can remain active in the blood for a longer period of time.

The concern scientists have is the potential for triclosan to contribute to already debilitating heart conditions. (Editor note: And it is the people who have medical conditions who are the ones that are so paranoid about being sick, THEY USE ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP AND HAND CLEANER ALL THE TIME.)  “…if you’re a person with heart disease already at 50 percent of heart function capacity, reducing 10 percent or 20 percent could markedly hurt your health.”

Pessah said.  “…buy disinfectant hand wash based in alcohol.  There’s no literature that says it’s more useful than just soap and water. The risks definitely outweigh the benefits.”

BOTTOM LINE:  Look at safer alternatives.  An environmentally-friendly soap and water works great… that’s what the doctor just said.  Ditch Triclosan.  It’s what a Green Tiger would do.