Q: I hear theres bad news about an antibacterial ingredient thats common in soap. With three kids under the age of 8, its a germ festival around here. I want to keep things clean. What should I do?
BECKY F., IND.
A: Weve talked about this before, but now theres new info about triclosan, one of the most potent antibacterials found in loads of household products: It can affect how your heart and other muscles contract. That means its time to sound the alarm again.
Whats wrong with triclosan? The data isnt definitive, but in the lab, it disrupts hormones and can damage reproductive systems. In the environment, it pollutes water and then transforms into something much worse, the cancer-causing agent dioxin. Like all plentiful antibiotics, it promotes antibiotic resistance, and its everywhere. Three-quarters of North Americans have triclosan residue in their urine; its even common in breast milk.
The good news? Giving up soaps, cleaning products, clothing, paint, cosmetics, hair conditioners and toothpaste with triclosan in them wont increase your risk of infections. At home, plain soap and water kills germs on hands, kitchen surfaces and clothing just as effectively.
More good news? All the outcry about triclosan has gotten corporate attention. Johnson & Johnson will phase out those chemicals in its products by 2015. Hope that others follow!
Our recommendations: Read labels and avoid products with triclosan. Think twice about buying toys, furniture or clothing made with it, and rely on additive-free soap and alcohol-only antibacterial hand sanitizer.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.