Word has been out for some time now about how all those antibacterial soaps and gels that were so popular at the beginning of this century contain chemicals that can also harm your body. But a new study out this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents evidence of how the germ fighting chemical triclosan, which is present in many soaps and even toothpastes, can interfere with the movement of calcium within cells. The same levels of triclosan found in humans, was enough to diminish strength and blood flow in mice.
According to Heiko Schoenfuss, a toxicologist and muscle physiologist at St. Cloud University in Minnesota, detecting this impact on calcium transport opens up a whole new series of questions about what other effects this chemical could have on humans and the environment in general. He described these results as a major breakthru, but also the opening of a “pandora’s box” of possible other effects.
Although the chemical was tested in only mice and humans, previous surveys carried out in the US, show that 1/3 of the population has triclosan in their system. Considering how antibacterial soaps have become so standard in the daily activities of so many people, it comes as no surprise that the chemical is so prevalent. There are already lists on the internet of typical cosmetics, medications, and other common items that contain triclosan.
Photo: Old Shoe Woman / flickr
Reference: C. Paolini, James D. Fessenden, Isaac N. Pessah, & C. Franzini-Armstrong (12012). Evidence for conformational coupling between two calcium channels Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0404836101