Common Antibacterial Agent Contributes to Antibiotic Resistance

Common Antibacterial Agent Contributes to Antibiotic Resistance

Stores are stocked with items promising to kill bacteria, and many consumers purchase those products in an attempt to protect themselves from infection. However, it turns out that could be doing more harm than good.

A common ingredient in products you use every day could be driving antibiotic resistance. Triclosan, a chemical found in everything from toothpaste and cosmetics to toys and credit cards, has been added for decades to keep these products free of microbes. Previously, contact with triclosan was considered safe for humans, but recent data shows otherwise.

A study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy suggests that the way triclosan inhibits bacterial growth is too similar to how antibiotics work. Constant exposure to triclosan in our everyday life has inadvertently made bacteria stronger and more likely to survive. Now, prescription drugs that should kill the bugs that make us sick aren’t working as they should. Instead, the bacteria are able to tolerate the treatment and escape death, leading to persistent and more severe infections.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned triclosan in some liquid antibacterial soaps after studies showed they were no more effective than bar soap and hot water. Still, manufacturers have continued using the chemical in other products. Now, with the identification of new health risks, researchers are again pushing for an in-depth assessment of triclosan use in consumer products. To find out if triclosan is an ingredient in items you use, visit the Households Products Database from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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