You may be getting more than you bargained for when you brush your teeth: you could be absorbing triclosan, a chemical that has been linked to colon cancer.
Triclosan is a suspected endocrine-disruptor and a well-known antibiotic known to contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Sadly, the toxin is added to many common household and personal care products (toothpaste, mouthwashes, soaps, detergents, bedding, socks and toys) to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Additionally, it is also found in some veterinary care products.
A recent study published in the medical journal Science Translational Medicine found that exposure to triclosan increased gut inflammation, which has been linked to a wide range of health conditions, including colitis. Colitis is a condition in which the inner lining of the colon becomes inflamed. Some of the symptoms of colitis include: abdominal pain, cramping, blood in the stools, fevers, diarrhea, fatigue, dehydration, eye inflammation, canker sores and joint inflammation.
The same study also found that among those with colitis, triclosan exposures increase the risk of colon cancer. In other words, triclosan increases intestinal inflammation, which is a causal factor for conditions like cancer. Then, among those with colitis, the compound increases the risk of colon cancer.
This chemical is also dangerous because it contributes to resistant bacteria and disorders that are the result of hormone imbalances. Because the use of triclosan is so common in the cosmetics and body care products industries as an antibacterial ingredient, this ingredient is contributing to the development of virulent superbugs that are resistant to our best drugs, which is why it was banned for use in hand soaps.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, triclosan was found in nearly 75 percent of the urine tested, suggesting wide-scale exposures among the general population. Triclosan absorbs through the mouth and skin when we use products that contain this ingredient.
Additionally, research published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found that the ingredient is also commonly found in breast milk and blood. The study also found that triclosan is prevalent in our waterways as well, in our planet’s oceans, streams, rivers and water reservoirs. It is highly toxic to fish and has damaging developmental and reproductive effects on some fish.
HOW TO LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO TRICLOSAN
This compound is fairly ubiquitous in many of our body care and household products so it will take some effort to reduce your exposure, but given its harmful effects, the effort will be worth it. Here are some things you can do:
-Choose only natural toothpaste that is free of triclosan. If you’re not sure whether your toothpaste contains this harmful ingredient, assume it does. You can make your own natural toothpaste with ½ cup baking soda with 10 drops of pure peppermint essential oil and 5 drops of myrrh essential oil. The latter is a strong antibacterial and antifungal compound. Be sure the oils you choose are suitable for consumption since you’ll be absorbing these ingredients through your mouth when you brush your teeth.
-Avoid using commercial mouthwashes. Not only do they typically contain harmful triclosan, research in the medical journal Nitric Oxide found that regular mouthwash use destroys beneficial bacteria in the mouth that are needed for our health, which may increase our diabetes risk.
-Choose clothing made from organic fabrics like hemp, cotton, linen, etc. since triclosan is often found on fabrics, particularly those that claim “anti-bacterial” status.
-Choose a mattress made from organic materials since most mattresses contain this toxic compound.
-Contact the manufacturer of the soaps and laundry detergents you use to be sure they are free of triclosan. Don’t just take their word for it. Ask them for third-party laboratory results.
-Beware of products that say “antibacterial” or “antifungal” as they often do so as a result of using triclosan.
-While it won’t result in a reduced triclosan exposure, it’s a good idea to eat more fermented foods to prevent the inflammation and damage that triclosan causes in the gut. Choose sauerkraut, yogurt or vegan yogurt, miso, and other naturally-fermented foods with live cultures.