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FDA to Re-examine Anti-Bacterial Chemical in Soaps, Cleansers
Date:4/8/2010

Triclosan linked to hormonal changes, antibiotic resistance in recent studies

THURSDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday acknowledged that there could be safety concerns regarding triclosan, an ingredient found widely in consumer products, such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste and cosmetics, clothing and toys.

In an update to its Web site, the agency stated that "triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review."

The FDA did not recommend that consumers change their behavior with respect to these products.

At issue is whether or not triclosan alters hormone regulation in humans, as it has been shown to do in animals. Such disruptions can cause developmental or other problems.

There is also concern that triclosan may contribute to resistance to antibiotics, whereby bacteria develop ways around the potentially lifesaving drugs.

One public health advocacy group applauded the FDA announcement.

"It's about time FDA has finally stated its concerns about antibacterial chemicals like triclosan," Dr. Sarah Janssen, a medical doctor and staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a news release issued Thursday. "The public deserves to know that these so-called antibacterial products are no more effective in preventing infections than regular soap and water and may, in fact, be dangerous to their health in the long run."

However, a representative of the cleaning-products industry defended triclosan's safety profile.

"With all due respect to the statement made by FDA, the agency has in its hands a wealth of scientific data showing a distinct germ-killing benefit of antibacterial soaps containing triclosan," said Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA).
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