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Chemical in Many Antibacterial Soaps Impairs Heart and Muscle Function


A study reveals that triclosan, a common ingredient in many antibacterial soaps and other personal care products, may have some frightening effects on public health. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , researchers found that exposure to this chemical is associated with impaired muscle function that can potentially contribute to heart disease and heart failure.

Co-author Dr. Nipavan Chiamvimonvat characterizes the effects of triclosan on heart function as being “very dramatic,” stating that it acts as a potent heart depressant. Lead author, Dr. Isaac Pessah, asserts the study’s results provide convincing proof that the chemical is harmful to humans as well as the environment.

Due to the widespread use of triclosan, levels of this chemical are steadily increasing in humans, evidenced by higher quantities found in plasma, urine and breast milk. Aside from being used in antibacterial soaps, it is also found in a broad spectrum of household products such as mouthwashes, toothpastes and deodorants, as well as towels, bedding and kitchen utensils. Additionally, because factories use the chemical so copiously, it is leaking out into the environment and is even found in some tap water samples.

Researchers were stunned by the study’s findings showing triclosan is a potent heart depressant.

In a quest to ascertain its effect on humans, researchers exposed human muscle cells to levels of triclosan that people use daily. They found the chemical greatly hindered the ability of the muscles to contract when stimulated, a function called “excitation-contraction coupling.” Pessah explains that since this process is essential for muscle contractions, an agent that hinders it can be deadly or debilitating. He says that his team was surprised triclosan impaired heart and skeletal muscle function relatively fast and at relatively small concentrations.

The second phase of the study involved mice rather than human cells. First, a mouse was injected with less than 1 percent of what is thought to be the lethal dose for animals. The researchers were startled when the animal died of heart failure within one minute.

Greatly reducing the dose, researchers then tested the rest of the mice and found triclosan impaired both heart muscle and skeletal muscle function. The mice displayed a 25 percent decline in heart function within 20 minutes of exposure and an 18 percent decline in grip strength up to an hour after receiving the dose.

Implications of the findings

Although the study’s results were quite disturbing, Pessah notes that human exposure to triclosan will not cause immediate heart failure. Most people are able to quickly metabolize the chemical and readily eliminate it through the urine. However, a segment of the populace is unable to metabolize the chemical rapidly, causing it to remain in the blood circulation longer.

Pessah expressed that their main concern is triclosan’s effect on those who already have debilitating heart disorders. “If an average individual loses 10 percent of their cardiac function, they’re not going to feel it,” he says, “but 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.”

Avoiding Triclosan

Pessah advises people to exercise great care when shopping and to look for products that do not contain this harmful ingredient. Check labels for triclosan or its brand name, Microban, because manufacturers using this chemical are required to list it. For those who desire an antibacterial soap, he recommends buying one based in alcohol, although there is no evidence showing it is better than plain soap and water. Lastly, Pessah warns that the risks of using antibacterial soaps containing triclosan certainly outweigh the benefits.


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Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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One response to “Chemical in Many Antibacterial Soaps Impairs Heart and Muscle Function”

  1. Also remember when you’re out in public that the soaps in public restrooms are often antibacterial soaps. And we don’t know what they use on the toilet seats that we sit on (unless you’re a hoverer, lol). So take a safe hand soap with you.