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Medicine

Widely Used Antibacterial Chemical May Impair Muscle Function 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-wasn't-me,-it-was-the-one-armed-antibacterial-chemical dept.
New submitter daleallan writes "Triclosan, which is widely used in consumer handsoaps, toothpaste, clothes, carpets and trash bags, impairs muscle function in animal studies, say researchers at UC Davis (abstract). It slows swimming in fish and reduces muscle strength in mice. It may even impair the ability of heart muscle cells to contract. The chemical is in everyone's home and pervasive in the environment, the lead researcher says. One million pounds of Triclosan is produced in the U.S. annually and it's found in waterways, fish, dolphins, human urine, blood and breast milk. The researchers say their findings 'Call for a dramatic reduction in use.' It's in my Colgate Total toothpaste, and in fact, preventing gingivitis is the only use that may be worthwhile, although this makes me think twice about continuing to brush with it." This isn't the first time Triclosan has been in the news over safety concerns.
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Widely Used Antibacterial Chemical May Impair Muscle Function

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  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:16AM (#40994881)

    12.5 mg/kg! Holy cow! This is ridiculously in excess of any conceivable dose of Triclosan you could get unless you are an utterly unprotected employee of a Triclosan-using factory.

  • by MassiveForces (991813) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:30AM (#40994935)
    For one thing, its reversible. Wears off after 60 mins in mice at the dose they were using. Hey that might even mean less free radicals which cause aging. Second, humans aren't going to notice the effects at the doses they receive, otherwise we would have seen it in factory workers that produce triclosan already. So nobody should be alarmed at least, unless maybe it impairs salmon swimming upstream to reproduce.
  • by rvw (755107) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:41AM (#40995005)

    there's lots of things which harm only some kinds of life.

    .....

    Lots of things are harmful to one organism and not another.

    Take Arsenic. We know it as a deadly poison. We all eat or drink a few micrograms of arsenic each day. If you take that away and make 100% free arsenic food, test that on rats, it turns out that they die more quickly. Is this the same for humans? Nobody knows that, but this is the same with most food research. So let's assume that it works the same for humans.

    It simply shows that like most things, too little is not good, too much neither. Drink four liters of water each day, and you will probably die.

  • Evolution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spectrokid (660550) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:09AM (#40995359) Homepage
    Yes, but if triclosan is such a miracle product, why aren't our bodies producing it naturally? Maybe because evolution showed there were some downsides?
  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:46AM (#40996155)

    Lots of things are harmful to one organism and not another: Theobromine is deadly to dogs but fairly harmless to us except in extreme quantities because we have enzymes which can handle it.

    Sorry to nitpick, but that's not really the best example. The LD50 for theobromine poisoning in dogs is 300mg/kg, around 1/3 that of humans. The TDLO (lowest amount required for symptoms) in dogs is 16mg/kg, about 2/3 that of humans. They really aren't that different from us.

    A 3kg chihuahua could eat a standard-size (43g) Hershey's milk chocolate bar and be completely asymptomatic. To reach its LD50, that chihuahua would have to eat around 15 chocolate bars. Of course, most dogs are much heavier than 3kg and have a similarly higher tolerance for theobromine: If a dog weighed as much as a typical human (let's say 75kg), it could eat 25 chocolate bars without any harmful effect.

    It's important to realize that dogs are opportunistic and will overeat if given the opportunity. Most breeds are also much smaller than humans. Stories of theobromine poisoning typically come from dogs who discovered a cache of chocolate candies and consumed an enormous amount compared to their body weight.

    But as long as you maintain some level of portion control, there's really nothing wrong with giving them a normal amount of chocolate in their diet. Just be careful with purer forms of chocolate—dark chocolate can have three times and raw unsweetened chocolate can have ten times as much theobromine as normal chocolate candy.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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