Brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly - that's the advice dentists dish out for healthy teeth and gums. But who'd have thought there could be a danger lurking in your tube of toothpaste?
Triclosan is a powerful antibacterial chemical. It's used in many leading toothpastes because dental experts believe it helps prevent plaque and gum disease. It's found in other products such as handwashes and cosmetics too.
But lab studies suggest triclosan makes bacteria immune to its antibacterial effects by creating mutations, and that the mutated bacteria affect other bacteria - something experts call cross-resistance. And it's the cross-resistance that they fear could cause antibiotic resistance.
Several studies already claim mutated versions of bacteria such as E coli, salmonella, listeria and the hospital superbug MRSA already exist - which suggests they're all developing a resistance to triclosan.
The US Food & Drug Administration is also reviewing the use of triclosan as experts suspect it's a hormone disruptor. In other words, the use of triclosan could be a risk factor in the development of hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer.
Do you think triclosan is a cause for concern? Or do we worry about far too many health issues nowadays?
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