An international team of scientists has linked the potent antibacterial agent triclosan, a component of some soaps and kinds of toothpaste, to colon inflammation, the main cause of colon cancer, according to a study published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Triclosan antibacterial substance tested for side effects in mice
Research led by Guodong Zhang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the USA, found that triclosan could have adverse effects on inflammation and colon cancer by altering the intestinal microbiota.
The study, conducted on mice, showed that short-term low-dose of triclosan causes low-grade colon inflammation and develops colitis and even colon cancer.
“These results, for the first time, suggest that triclosan may have adverse effects on intestinal health,” Zhang said.
Toothpaste containing triclosan linked to colon inflammation and colon cancer
Triclosan, according to the researchers, is one of the most widely used antibacterial ingredients, found in more than 2,000 consumer products and, especially, in toothpaste. In fact, according to a National Health and Nutrition Survey in the United States, triclosan was detected in approximately 75 percent of the urine samples of the people tested.
“Because this compound is widely used, our study suggests that there is an urgent need to further evaluate the impact of triclosan exposure,” said Haixia Yang, co-author of the research.
The report noted that triclosan altered the mice’ intestinal microbiota, increased inflammation, intensified the severity of colitis symptoms, and stimulated the cell growth of colitis-associated colon cancer. Although limited to rodent models, this paper “suggests that the effects of triclosan on human health should be examined more closely,” the authors concluded.
According to the experts, people must avoid swallowing toothpaste containing triclosan or simply rely on buying products without this substance. They also recommended that, for young children, using products without this harmful substance is ideally to avoid any possible contamination.