Antimicrobial agent triclosan, used in soaps and detergents, may cause cancer

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Triclosan, a popular antimicrobial agent in soaps, detergents, and plastics, has been found to promote liver cancer in mice after long-term exposure.

In this study, mice were fed chow consisting of 0.08% triclosan. The mice had enlarged livers and liver fibrosis after 8 months of exposure, which is equivalent to approximately 18 human years. Liver fibrosis has been shown to promote liver cancer in previous studies. Additional studies examined how triclosan affects liver tumor formation.

Those results indicated mice exposed to triclosan developed more tumors, and the tumors were larger compared with tumors found in mice not exposed to the agent. Triclosan is absorbed into the human body through the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. “We could reduce most human and environmental exposures by eliminating uses of triclosan that are high volume, but of low benefit, such as inclusion in liquid hand soaps,” said one of the study co-authors.

Triclosan is currently under review by the US FDA due to previous studies linking it to hormone disruption and impaired muscle contraction. Major consumer products manufacturers, such as Procter and Gamble and Unilever, are already eliminating the agent from their products.

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Triclosan has been found to promote liver cancer in mice.

Long-term exposure to triclosan—a popular antimicrobial agent in soaps, detergents, and plastics, still in use in the Philippines—has been found to promote liver cancer in mice. The study was conducted by scientists from the University of California (San Diego and Davis) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In this study, the researchers fed mice with chow consisting of 0.08% triclosan [5-chloro-2-(2, 4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol]. After eight months of exposure (roughly equivalent to 18 human years), the mice showed enlarged livers and liver fibrosis. Previous studies have shown that liver fibrosis, or the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in the liver, promotes liver cancer.

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