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Antibacterial soap can actually make you sick

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A new study published April 8 in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, shows that antibacterial soap can actually make you sick, thanks to a chemical compound called triclosan in the soap that can stimulate the growth of bacterial infections.

The study confirms earlier research showing that antimicrobial chemicals, which are in everything from soap to toothpaste and common household cleaning products, can actually promote infections in susceptible individuals.

For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan took samples from the nasal passages of adult participants and found that 41 percent of them indicated the presence of triclosan.

The research team said that the chemical finds its way into human nasal passages where it can then lead to the growth of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria – a kind of bacteria that makes people more likely to get an infection.

Indeed, among the participants sampled who had triclosan inside their nose, a high percentage of them also had the Staphylococcus aureus infection.

Lead researcher Blaise Boles noted that triclosan has been around for 40 years and is found in numerous antibacterial soaps and household products, including scant amounts that have been found in milk, human blood and urine.

Previous studies have also found triclosan in animals in amounts high enough to disrupt the endocrine system, while decreasing heart and muscle function.

Boles added that even though triclosan is very common in antibacterial soaps, there isn’t any evidence that it works better than regular soap – and that it may actually put people at a higher risk for developing an infection and lead to Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization.

The research team suggested that the results of their new study show an urgent need for additional investigation into the safety of triclosan in consumer products.

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