FDA warns that antibacterial soap is dangerous

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Antibacterial soaps can contain triclosan, a chemical that has been linked to upsetting hormone levels in animals.

We know that we’re supposed to wash our hands thoroughly to get rid of any germs that can make us sick. However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you should stay away from “antibacterial soap” because its chemicals are bad news for your health!

According to the FDA, antibacterial soap doesn’t work any better than regular soap and warm water. See, antibacterial soap has a chemical known as triclosan, and according to several animal studies, it can make hormone levels go out of whack. Since hormones are a substance that regulates the balance of important fluids in our body, antibacterial soap may have a negative long-term effect on our cells. When hormones are disrupted, it can put a real kink in our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. So, while the FDA hasn’t proven that human hormone levels are influenced by antibacterial soap, it’s still a big concern.

The government agency is also worried about triclosan’s contribution to drug-resistant bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more and more bacteria evolving to fight medicines designed to kill them, because people use antibiotics too often. Researchers are worried the same phenomenon will happen with antibacterial soap as well. That is, they fear that if more people continue to use the hand cleanser to kill bacteria, eventually germs will resist soap!

“New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits,” said Colleen Rogers, an FDA microbiologist. That’s putting it mildly!

Because of this research, the FDA is requiring all antibacterial soap manufacturers to conduct studies on their products and demonstrate that they’re safe and effective. Meanwhile, the agency is encouraging consumers, doctors, environmental groups, scientists, industry representatives, and others to express their opinion within 180 days.

As of now, the FDA wants to remind everyone that hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness. Just make sure to use classic soap, rather than the kind labeled as antibacterial.

Featured image courtesy of Lucille Pine on Flickr