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Government Science

FDA Seeks Tougher Rules For Antibacterial Soaps 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-clean dept.
barlevg writes "It's long been a concern that the widespread use of antibacterial soaps is contributing towards the evolution of drug-resistant 'superbugs,' but as the Washington Post reports, the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water. Under the terms of a proposal under consideration, the FDA will require that manufacturers making such claims will have to show proof. If they fail to do so, they will be required to change their marketing or even stop selling the products altogether."
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FDA Seeks Tougher Rules For Antibacterial Soaps

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  • Come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by therealkevinkretz (1585825) * on Monday December 16, 2013 @03:48PM (#45706803)

    The bigger problem is antibiotic use on farms, and the FDA's recent toothless rules ( http://theweek.com/article/index/254057/why-the-fdas-new-antibiotic-rules-fall-short [theweek.com] ) rely on the farmers who use them to mediate the results of cruel conditions (overcrowding, etc) and the companies who sell them to voluntarily cut back on their use. Good luck with that.

    Meantime they hit hard on Purell users. Bah.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Purell is neither soap nor "antibacterial" in this sense.

      • I thought it was considered an "antibacterial". I've learned something but can't edit my post (the point of which remains intact) else I would. Thanks.

        • by macbeth66 (204889)

          It is anti-bacterial. It just isn't done with antibiotics. And there isn't a resistance. Not that would be a hideous situation.

          • Re:Come on (Score:4, Interesting)

            by sexconker (1179573) on Monday December 16, 2013 @05:25PM (#45707945)

            It is anti-bacterial. It just isn't done with antibiotics. And there isn't a resistance. Not that would be a hideous situation.

            Plenty of organisms develop resistances to alcohol, bleach, peroxide, and other things we use.
            I don't know why people believe otherwise. Your own skin is evidence of such resistance. Your typical seed is resistant to harsh stomach acids. Mold spores resist the hell out of crap. And water bears are on a whole other level.
            You could pick just about any bacteria or virus you want and breed in resistance to ethanol, chlorine, fire, whatever. Whether or not the resulting generation of bacteria or virus does the same thing afterward is a separate issue.

            • Re:Come on (Score:4, Interesting)

              by LordLimecat (1103839) on Monday December 16, 2013 @05:56PM (#45708281)

              I don't know why people believe otherwise. Your own skin is evidence of such resistance.

              Because becoming immune to an oxidizing agent is a heck of a lot different than becoming immune to something targetting specific proteins / receptors / metabolic paths.

              Ie, becoming immune to bleach would be sort of like if a bacteria became immune to breaching the cell wall with a needle.

              • by fatphil (181876)
                I know bugger all about biology, but it wouldn't surprise me if some of the more extreme chemicals which instigate chemical processes (oxidation, reduction, ...) would actually become part of the metabolism, rather than just being an immunity. The energy from the reaction would become part of its energy source.

                HCl in stomachs springs to mind - the gut flora there probably thrive off the acidic environment, rather than just being immune to it.
            • by jafiwam (310805)

              It is anti-bacterial. It just isn't done with antibiotics. And there isn't a resistance. Not that would be a hideous situation.

              Plenty of organisms develop resistances to alcohol, bleach, peroxide, and other things we use. I don't know why people believe otherwise. Your own skin is evidence of such resistance. Your typical seed is resistant to harsh stomach acids. Mold spores resist the hell out of crap. And water bears are on a whole other level. You could pick just about any bacteria or virus you want and breed in resistance to ethanol, chlorine, fire, whatever. Whether or not the resulting generation of bacteria or virus does the same thing afterward is a separate issue.

              That "separate issue" is the only important part. The truth is, bleach, alcohol, and a variety of other stuff that renders the life form deaded work Those things have not yet, or rarely have had a resistance develop that both allows the organism to carry on, but also live in the environment.

              It simply hasn't happened. So those tools continue to work. Because they might not work due to as of yet not described mechanism the organisms might magically create isn't a good reason not to use them.

            • by Bengie (1121981)
              An organism that is immune to alcohol, bleach, peroxide, etc would be so specialized that they would not be effective in any other environment. It's like saying an organism that has evolved to survive being in the direct blast of the particle jets of a blackhole. Ok, not that bad, but still. It would be a one-trick pony.
            • I've long wondered why there is no resistance buildup to traditional soap. I know that soap does not have a chemical effect on germs but a physical effect: it basically unglues them and then water carries them away. But I don't see how that would make a difference; so why haven't germs evolved a better way to stick to your skin after 3000 years of soap use ?
              • Because being washed down the drain doesn't impact their survival. There's no selection pressure to make them glue better to the skin, they thrive just as well (if not better) in the drain pipe/sewage.
        • Re:Come on (Score:5, Insightful)

          by blueg3 (192743) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:40PM (#45710397)

          Yes, the first point is entirely true: widespread use on farms is where one of the major problems are.

          Home-use soaps are potentially a concern, but a much smaller factor.

          Your confusion is appropriate: the marketing of things as "antibacterial" is inconsistent and, mostly, stupid. There are soaps (and other consumer products, like plastics) that include a wide variety of different antibiotics, ones that include different kinds of bacteriacides altogether, and ones that include simple things like bleach and ethanol. Purell, which is ethanol, is certainly antibacterial, in that it's excellent at killing bacteria. But in this article, when they're talking about "antibacterial soaps", that's not what they mean. So consistent and helpful!

    • The antibacterial in most hand sanitizers [wikipedia.org] is simply alcohol. Microbes cannot build up a resistance to the 50% or better alcohol content. However it isn't effective against all microbes, no bacteria can survive it [infectionc...ltoday.com].

      • Re:Come on (Score:5, Informative)

        by sribe (304414) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:09PM (#45707019)

        The antibacterial in most hand sanitizers [wikipedia.org] is simply alcohol.

        Yes, but hand sanitizers are not the subject of the article. "Antibacterial soaps" are, which is an entirely different subject.

        • Correct, but the GGP that did not read the article was ranting about hand sanitizers.

          • by sribe (304414)

            Correct, but the GGP that did not read the article was ranting about hand sanitizers.

            Well, I suppose that's why it got modded into oblivion so that I never saw it, while your post was modded up and appeared by itself without sufficient context...

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:18PM (#45707117)

      We are covered with bacteria a lot of it is rather helpful to us. So by using Anti-bacterial soap we do kill off the good bacteria too.
      Or worse we make the good Bacteria go bad. Because when we try to kill it, it gives off chemicals to try to protect itself which then turns harmful for us.

      We are better off washing our hands with normal soap, which washes away large colonies of bacteria, but doesn't kill them off, as well as foreign contaminates that could cause problems too.

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:41PM (#45707419)

        We are covered with bacteria a lot of it is rather helpful to us. So by using Anti-bacterial soap we do kill off the good bacteria too.

        Absoolutely. The hygiene hypothesis [wikipedia.org] suggests that those "good" bacteria not only play a role in things like digestion, etc., but also may be necessary for a normal functioning immune system.

        It may be even worse than that. Triclosan, one of the most common compound used in antibacterial soaps, tends to hang out in the environment for quite a while [wired.com]. What is the effect of large amounts of antibacterial stuff ending up in our systems and the environment around us? Could it eventually disrupt the growth of the normal bacterial biome around us, which is necessary to the normal functioning of our bodies?

        I don't think we should be alarmist about this, but it's something at least worth studying, and perhaps being a bit cautious about.

      • by EvilSS (557649) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:23PM (#45708619)

        We are covered with bacteria a lot of it is rather helpful to us. So by using Anti-bacterial soap we do kill off the good bacteria too..

        In this case, probably not. Most studies on OTC soaps containing Triclosan (the antibiotic used in "antimicrobial" soaps) shows that it is, at the levels allowed in those products, virtually useless. There is no difference in bacteria counts (good or bad) between using those and regular non-medicated soaps. All it does is allow the exposed bacteria to develop an immunity to it, as well as contaminating the environment.

      • by antdude (79039)

        How about not using any soap? Just rinse with water. :P

    • Re:Come on (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:21PM (#45707163)
      The U.S. FDA differs from the corresponding agencies in other First World countries because it has a different standard for determining safety. Usually, a manufacturer has to prove a new chemical is safe before they can put it on the market. In the U.S., the standard is different. Unless a third party can prove to their satisfaction that the product is unsafe, the manufacturer can continue to sell it. This is why bisphenol-A, for example, is used in the lining of all canned foods in the U.S. and not in other countries. Although studies have repeatedly come out indicating that it binds to estrogen receptors and mimics estrogen in some ways, the FDA has claimed that no one study in humans has conclusively proven that BPA has effects. BPA studies are difficult in humans because it's impossible to shield a control group from exposure to it- virtually all foods sold in the U.S. are laced with it, with no labeling requirements whatsoever. China has banned the use of BPA, but still manufactures millions of tons for exports to the U.S.
      • Usually, a manufacturer has to prove a new chemical is safe before they can put it on the market.

        I find myself curious.

        How does one go about PROVING a chemical to be safe?

        • Regulatory capture and biased media coverage, mostly.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Obfuscant (592200)

            How does one go about PROVING a chemical to be safe?

            Regulatory capture and biased media coverage, mostly.

            Perhaps you missed the point that it is the rest of the world whose FDA equivalents are working under the "prove it is safe" paradigm. Are you truly aiming your snark at non-US governments and claiming that those non-US agencies are victims of "regulatory capture" and "biased media" and that's how they're proving that things are safe? And then, by extension, that since the FDA does not try to prove chemicals are safe they are not subject to regulatory capture and biased media? If so, what an unexpected tur

            • I was going for "you can't, you can only show it's safe under a large range of likely circumstances—unless you can trick people into thinking you've 'proven' something by lying to them." Nice guess, though? I guess?
              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                I was going for "you can't, you can only show it's safe under a large range of likely circumstances

                Next time you want to say "you can't" don't talk about how it is done. Talk about how it can't be done.

  • Only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria. Maybe if the general population washed their hands properly there would be time for the antibacterial agents to go to work. Instead we instantly scrub our hands clean and follow up with a solid sniff to make sure they smell good, because if it smells clean then it is clean method works every time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria.

      I'd like to see a citation. I'm not sure how well the period of washing "long enough to kill infection causing germs and bacteria" is known. If you are talking about surgeons, who are putting their hands inside a body cavity, yes, I will accept that you want your doctor to do a very long scrub with vigorous soap. For ordinary day to day human interactions, however, I'd really like to see a good citation for the claim that you need to wash your hands for a minimum of thirty seconds and scrubbing vigorousl

      • You should wash your hands long enough to sing Happy Birthday(c) twice.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yes yes, and then you should spin around 3 times to the left, walk twice back and forth to the door, and then wash them two more times. Spin to the left on even repetitions. If you get it wrong, you must start over.

          • by sjames (1099)

            And for god's sake, do not thrust and grab your junk. Signed, everyone else in the men's room.

        • by Krishnoid (984597) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:44PM (#45708811) Journal

          You should wash your hands long enough to sing Happy Birthday(c) twice.

          That's long enough to scrub off the bacteria. Also, entirely coincidentally, long enough for the RIAA to get a fix on your position.

        • by Bengie (1121981)
          Sounds like a great way to upset the bacterial balance of your skin, not to mention completely dry out your skin.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I used to date a nurse, that would go into classrooms to teach this stuff. Basically, if you want proof, cover your hands in glitter, then try to wash it off. Note the time. Sometimes the simplest demonstrations are best.

    • Only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria. Maybe if the general population washed their hands properly there would be time for the antibacterial agents to go to work. Instead we instantly scrub our hands clean and follow up with a solid sniff to make sure they smell good, because if it smells clean then it is clean method works every time.

      And this paragraph of purely speculative nonsense has what to do with hand-wash manufacturers making dubious product claims?

    • by barlevg (2111272) on Monday December 16, 2013 @03:58PM (#45706913)
      Even if the problem is "between the dispenser and the faucet," [wikipedia.org] as it were, it's still a problem. It's not like these soaps feature huge warning labels or, hell, even legibly-sized instructions, that say, "YOU MUST RINSE YOUR HANDS FOR UPWARDS OF TWO MINUTES OR ELSE THE SUPERBUGS WIN!!!" If they did that, then I think your argument would be valid, but when you make a product KNOWING that most people won't devote that long to scrubbing and you know that failure to do so will just lead to antibacterial-resistant strains, I call that negligence.
    • by iggymanz (596061) on Monday December 16, 2013 @03:59PM (#45706927)

      the main purpose of soap in washing skin is merely to make the slime coat of (most) the bacteria not cling to you so they can be rinsed away, not to kill them. That's why plain old soap is good enough, and these chlorinated organics are not necessary in normal household use. The chemicals and special soaps containing them do have some legitimate use in certain medical protocols, but not for any use by the average consumer

    • by lgw (121541)

      You're focused on the wrong medicine!

      There are drugs for OCD these days. Fretting about clean hands is a very common for of OCD - if you find yourself worrying about it on a daily basis, seek professional help for your mental illness.

  • there is proof (Score:5, Informative)

    by iggymanz (596061) on Monday December 16, 2013 @03:53PM (#45706853)

    the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does. Trivial to prove soaps with them they kill bacteria, that's already been done. they are even used to kill resistant bacterias on skin in certain medical protocols, look it up.

    I'm allergic to one of the chemical, so I won't be crying if they are banned. but the "tin foil hat" health sites make absurd claims about their contributing to the breeding of super bugs

    • Re:there is proof (Score:5, Insightful)

      by barlevg (2111272) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:00PM (#45706949)
      The issue is not whether they kill germs. Hell, "old age" will eventually kill bacteria. [researchgate.net] The issue is whether antibacterial soaps are any more effective than just soap and water.
    • Re:there is proof (Score:4, Informative)

      by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:05PM (#45706987)

      I think you missed the point of the article;

      the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water.

      It is a given that soap kills bacteria. It is also a given that antibacterial agents kill bacteria. What the FDA want is proof that soap with additional antibacterial agents kill more bacteria than soap alone. It could be that the soap and the anti bacterial agent would kill the same bacteria leaving the same bacteria alive. In that case there would be no difference between regular soap and antibacterial soap.

      • Re:there is proof (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ted Stockwell (2878303) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:17PM (#45707111)

        It is a given that soap kills bacteria.

        Soap doesn't kill bacteria, it merely dissolves the oil that enables the bacteria to cling to your skin, thus allowing water to flush them away.
        Soap and water is so effective at removing bacteria that adding a microbial agent to the soap has no benefit, because there are so few bacteria left on your skin to kill...

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          Thanks, that adds more credence to the superbug issue.

        • Re:there is proof (Score:5, Informative)

          by pesho (843750) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:57PM (#45708973)
          Soap will actually kill Gram-negative bacteria, by dissolving their cell membranes. Gram-positive bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc are going to be harder to kill by soap. Any spores will be completely resistant. This however is not the point. You use the soap not to kill the bugs, but to wash them away.
        • Soap and water is so effective at removing bacteria that adding a microbial agent to the soap has no benefit

          Nonsense, it's of excellent benefit to many marketing departments.

      • It is a given that soap kills bacteria.

        My understanding is that soap does not kill bacteria, but rather removes them from the skin so they can rinse down the drain. A quick search seems to confirm this, but I haven't found a quality citation.

    • by sribe (304414)

      the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

      True. However there is still the possibility that bacteria will develop resistance to these poisons, and there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other.

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        there are chemicals for which no bacteria can have resistance, they are uniformly destroyed. These poison chemicals are what are used in the soaps (alcohol, chlorinated organics), they kill all bacteria, no exceptions.

        • by sribe (304414)

          There are chemicals for which no bacteria can have resistance, they are uniformly destroyed.

          Yes.

          These poison chemicals are what are used in the soaps (alcohol, chlorinated organics), they kill all bacteria, no exceptions.

          Simply not true.

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            please provide link to bacteria that can survive 50% alcohol (it dissolves the lipids in membrane) solution or even 10% trichlorsan

            simply true

            • by sribe (304414)

              please provide link to bacteria that can survive 50% alcohol (it dissolves the lipids in membrane) solution or even 10% trichlorsan

              First, triclosan concentrations in antibacterial soap are nowhere near 10%--the range is 0.1% - 1%. Second, well, I'll just copy and paste from wikipedia to support my original point that "there is still the possibility that bacteria will develop resistance to these poisons, and there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other":

              An article coauthored by Stuart Levy in the August 6, 1998 issue of Nature[32] warned that triclosan's overuse could cause resistant strains of bacteria to develop, in much the

            • by fatphil (181876)
              16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that the strains from two patients were Mycobacterium chelonae and that those from the other two were Mycobacterium nonchromogenicum. Alcohol resistance assay using the quantitative suspension test revealed that all four strains showed prolonged survival in 75% alcohol compared to other skin flora.
              -- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC140401/
    • by Sique (173459)
      Actually, antibiotics poison bacteria. "Poisonous" just means that it messes something up in the metabolism to cause harm. Antibiotics happen to be poisons that mainly poison bacteria and are harmless to other organisms. They influence compounds and chemical reactions that only or mainly exist in bacteria. Penicillin (and other beta-lactams) for instance supresses the synthetization of the peptidoglycides needed by Gram-positive bacteria to build their cell walls. Thus the (Gram-positive) bacteria can't gro
    • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:39PM (#45708765)

      the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

      All antibiotics poison bacteria in some way, and several are chlorinated hydrocarbons, e.g. vancomycin, clindamycin, clofazimine, chloramphenicol, thiamphenicol, etc. Antibiotics are widely varied category of chemicals, and while triclosan isn't directly related to any families I'm aware of, that doesn't mean that resistance to it would be useless against antibiotics that operate on the same system.

      A mutation capable of resisting the effects of one class of chemicals can often be useful for resisting very different chemicals that have the same effect. Triclosan works at higher, lethal concentrations by disrupting bacterial cell membranes. At lower concentrations it also suppresses fatty acid formation necessary for cell membrane creation by binding up two enzymes necessary for the process: ENR [wikipedia.org] and NAD+ [wikipedia.org]. (This prevents reproduction but doesn't kill.)

      Isoniazid [wikipedia.org] is one of our first-line treatments for tuberculosis. Interestingly, it also works by binding to NADH and then binding to ENR and blocking fatty acid synthesis. Studies have shown that some strains of isoniazid-resistant mycobacteria are also pretty resistant to triclosan [mville.edu] as a result. Others aren't, because they developed mutations that affected other parts of the process of the drug's interaction. These are unrelated compounds, but a mutation that affects an enzyme they both act on can promote resistance to both.

      There is also evidence that evolution of triclosan resistance can increase resistance to ciprofloxacin. [asm.org] In that case, the mutation was to increase the expression of certain efflux pumps, used to pump toxic chemicals out of the cell. Turns out in that case that the same pump was used as part of the processes to eliminate both toxins.

      So, in summary, while there isn't any evidence that triclosan is responsible for anywhere near the damage that usage in livestock has done, it's probably not a good idea to keep using a chemical that has risks in a situation where it has little benefit because it can aid in the development of resistance for some antibiotics.

      • by dwywit (1109409) on Monday December 16, 2013 @08:59PM (#45710093)

        As a matter of interest, I've wondered if long-discarded anti-bacterial agents could be used again, e.g. you would think that most bacteria today would be resistant to sulfanilamides, being the offspring of those that survived in the past. But if those drugs haven't been used for a long time, would the inherited resistance be reduced or gone, as it hasn't been "challenged" for many generations?

        • Yes, chloramphenicol [wikipedia.org] is gaining resurgent use in the US because it hasn't been broadly used for several decades (in the US, it's very popular in developing countries). It's sort of an open secret amongst infectious disease docs who don't want the medical hoi polloi to discover it again (not that most hospitals actually carry it) and start the resistance cycle all over.

    • by EvilSS (557649)

      the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

      That may or may not be true. There is ongoing research into MERSA regarding Triclosan resistance and antibiotic resistance and if there may be a link. The theory they are investigating is whether or not one of the genetic changes that allows for Triclosan resistance may also affect antibiotic efficiency. There is also the problem that Triclosan resistance can impart resistance to other biocides as well. Finally, keep in mind that Triclosan is (or was) one of the first-line biocides against MERSA, so crea

    • by pesho (843750)

      The fact that soap kills bacteria is largely irrelevant. Soap's mode of action, as for any other detergent, is to remove the impurities from the surface. Whether the said impurities are dead or alive makes no difference to the persons washing their hands as long as their are washed away. What is relevant is that the wide use anti-bactericidal additives has two unintended consequences:

      1. Creates resistance, which will become a problem in cases were you don't have the option to wash a surface but have to rel

    • Wrong, so wrong, on so many levels. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about from a chemical or medical perspective.

      Your chlorinated kitchen cleanser uses chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite). It kills because it is a strong oxidizer.

      Triclosan and triclocarban are organic molecules (two benzene rings with a bridge) with chlorine atoms substituted for some of the hydrogens. They are capable of entering cells and disrupting enzyme pathways, a completely different approach from bleach, and one t

    • by hey! (33014)

      The question isn't whether antibacterial agents like tricolosan *cause* antibiotic resistance. Clearly that's poppycock. But that *doesn't* mean anti-bacterial soap can't contribute to the spread of pathogenic bacteria in general.

      By altering the user's microbiome [wikipedia.org], an antibacterial agent could potentially open an ecological niche for a pathogen. If the particular strain of pathogen happens to be antibiotic resistant, then the antibacterial has contributed to the the spread of antibiotic resistance without ac

  • Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:00PM (#45706945) Journal

    Even if they do kill some bacteria, the important thing is whether they have efficacy in preventing disease. For that matter, killing too many bacteria could even encourage disease, by reducing the effectiveness of our immune systems.

    • Even if they do kill some bacteria, the important thing is whether they have efficacy in preventing disease. For that matter, killing too many bacteria could even encourage disease, by reducing the effectiveness of our immune systems.

      Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis [wikipedia.org] has been getting a lot of attention lately. Some blame some of the growth of autoimmune diseases in recent years on overactive immune systems that don't have enough normal bacteria around to function as they would in the natural world.

      We have so many bacteria living inside of us doing good things. Our bodies couldn't function effectively without them. Completely sterilizing parts of our skin repeatedly could also have unwanted side effects.

      If you're dealing with people

      • Re:Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:37PM (#45707373) Journal

        Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis has been getting a lot of attention lately.

        And it only took 14 years since George Carlin [youtube.com] introduced it. Personally, it seems to me that if children emerge from the womb with an instinctual urge to put everything they can get their hands on in their mouth, there must be some evolutionary benefit to that.

      • Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis has been getting a lot of attention lately.

        Sadly not enough. I still get dirty looks (pun partially intended) from parents who see my kids playing in the dirt patch that becomes the garden. Kids love dirt and muck and as long as they aren't trampling the plants I don't care if they play in there.

    • Re:Useless (Score:4, Informative)

      by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:56PM (#45707587)

      I believe the proper way to deal with bacteria is environmental. If you wash with soap and water and don't try too hard to kill anything living on your hands, chances are you remove gunk that will provide a habitat for dangerous bacteria and not kill what is there. Your body is flooded with bacteria so you might as well get used to the occupants you have that are doing you no harm.

      An effective anti-bacterial agent, in my book, is quite dangerous as it wipes out the bacteria you've got and leaves and ecological niche for bacteria who are not necessarily on friendly terms.

      We have this same issue with our crazy modern diet, where we eat foods that don't grow healthy stomach bacteria. I think a lot of allergies and food cravings can be caused by growing the wrong intestinal flora.

      >> this isn't as controversial a subject as it was twenty years ago, so maybe Doctors are catching up finally.

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:12PM (#45707045) Homepage

    But I'm having a hard time believing them. Time and again it turns out money is involved in "objective" advice.

  • The article seems to refer to two interesting statements that when combined have an interesting outcome.
    1. Antibacterial soaps are only killing weak bacteria thereby leaving superbugs to grow unchecked
    2. Soap kills the same bacteria as antibacterial soaps.

    If you combine the two the outcome seems to be the following
    Since soap kills the same bacteria as antibacterial soaps the use of soap is contributing to the growth of superbugs.

    It would seem that one of those initial premises are probably incorrect.

    I think

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      I stand corrected. Another poster pointed out that soap does not kill bacteria but removes it from the skin. That leaves the bacteria in the waste water and therefore less of a breeding ground for superbugs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:27PM (#45707233)

    from my warm, well-sanitized hands.

    • by aiht (1017790)

      from my warm, well-sanitized hands.

      You're happy for someone to take it away from you while you're still alive? Meaning, you won't put up a fight? Okay, no problem then.

  • Dioxin Funtime (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kagato (116051) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:38PM (#45707387)

    The biggest issue the the common antibacterial agent in soaps combines with other household cleaners water treatment chemicals to produce a dioxin like substance. Studies are starting to showing negative environmental impacts to takes and rivers as a result.

  • So, the FDA is going to require manufacturers to prove their antibacterial soap does something worthwhile, eh?

    And if the soaps fail to do anything worthwhile, the manufacturers will just have to remove the "kills bacteria" from the labels in order to continue selling them.

    And everyone (including those who currently use anit-bacterial soaps) will continue to use the same brand they always have, because they're used to it.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      And if the soaps fail to do anything worthwhile, the manufacturers will just have to remove the "kills bacteria" from the labels in order to continue selling them.

      Nope. In the situation you describe, they won't have to remove "kills bacteria" from the labels. Any soap will do that, assuming you *use* it properly with water and rinse. (A truth I've been trying to communicate to a group of Boy Scouts every time I'm watching them cook on camp outs.)

      • by EvilSS (557649)
        Normal soaps do not work by killing bacteria, they work by helping dislodge them from the skin surface, thus allowing them to be washed away.

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