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Ingredient in Soap Impairs Muscle Function

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Nicholas Wills5 years ago

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has published a new study indicating that exposure to a certain chemical (triclosan) in antibacterial soap is linked with muscle function impairments in humans and mice.

The Concern: High Levels of Triclosan

Dr. Isaac Pessah, a professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is the study’s lead author. Pessah told Fox News that the levels of triclosan in humans, including plasma, urine, and breast milk, have been increasing since it was first used as an antibacterial ingredient in the early 1970s. He said the levels have been increasing in the environment, too.

The Connection Between Muscle Contractions and Triclosan

According to Fox News, Pessah and his research team produced fully functioning cells derived from muscle cells in humans in order to more accurately test triclosan’s effect on human muscles. After exposing the cells to levels of triclosan similar to amounts that people use daily, Pessah and his colleagues found that the chemical greatly interfered with the muscles’ ability to contract when stimulated – a response known as “excitation-contraction coupling (ECC).”

Pessah said that interfering with ECC can be “lethal and certainly debilitating.”  

Triclosan and Heart Disease
  • Triclosan affects muscles by reducing muscle contractions in both cardiac and skeletal muscles.
  • The main concern scientists have out of this study is the potential for triclosan exposure to contribute to already debilitating heart conditions.
  • Pessah told Fox News,  “If an average individual loses 10 percent of their cardiac function, they’re not going to feel it. But if you’re a person with heart disease already at 50 percent of heart function capacity, reducing 10 percent or 20 percent could markedly hurt your health.”
  • The study on triclosan arose from researchers out of the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado wanting to examine possible effects of triclosan after hearing and reading about literature regarding health issues surrounding the chemical’s use, and also substantial increases in the chemical’s production.
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