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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Antibacterial Ingredients in Soaps Found To Cause Harm

Oct 31, 2012 02:33PM ● By Ann Dorn

Researchers at UC Davis recently released a study showing that triclosan, a common antibacterial ingredient in body wash, soaps, and other personal care products reduces muscle strength in mice and fish, leading researchers to believe it may also be a problem for humans. A study released by the University of Michigan last year found that triclosan may compromise the immune system and make exposed people more vulnerable to the toxic effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastics and used to line food cans. The American Medical Association currently recommends that tricolsan be avoided, because it can promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

“Some of the affected products include items we have used for years, that many people assumed to be safe because they are on a store shelf and available for purchase,” says Dr. Vinay Desai, who holds a PhD in pharmaceutical science and co-owns Dr. Desai Soaps, a family-run Ayurvedic soap and personal care product company.

Dr. Desai cautions that consumers must remember personal care products don’t just affect the area to which they are applied.

“The skin is the largest organ of the body,” he says. “What we apply on our skin is absorbed into our body. With this in mind our natural ingredient selection follows a simple philosophy: ‘If you cannot understand it, don’t put it on your skin.’”

In addition, Dr. Desai notes that triclosan does not biodegrade quickly and use of soaps, face wash and other personal care products containing the chemical cause it to end up in waterways, where it is very toxic to wildlife.

Dr. Desai says that products labeled “antibacterial,” “odor reducing,” or “keeps fresher, longer” are more likely to contain triclosan, or triclarban as it is sometimes called. “Ultimately, you want to look for personal care products from companies that practice full disclosure of all ingredients and avoid the use of synthetic preservatives, foaming agents, harmful chemicals or perfumes,” he says. “Labeling requirements usually only make manufacturers list an ingredient when it’s present at certain levels. Dr. Desai Soaps and other reputable companies list all of our natural and organic ingredients, regardless of whether we are required to by law.”

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