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What Are the Dangers of Antibacterial Hand Soaps & Cleaners?

By Holly Case ; Updated July 18, 2017

Antibacterial hand soaps and cleaners make it easy and fast to kill germs. Antibacterial instant hand sanitizers help in environments and situations where it may be difficult to get to a sink to wash your hands. Antibacterial cleansing products containing the ingredient triclosan claim to offer more germ-fighting protection than regular soaps against some of the most virulent illnesses present in modern society, such as staphylococcus, influenza and strep. However, antibacterial soaps present some risks in addition to their stated advantages.

Lack of Benefit

Antibacterial soaps may not be any more effective at killing germs than regular soap, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The university reports that washing hands with regular soap and water for 30 seconds reduces the bacterial count on health care workers' hands by 58 percent. Furthermore, antibacterial soaps may have an overkill effect of being more powerful than necessary to get the job done.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a serious potential problem in the health care field. Antibiotic resistance means that certain bacteria become so strong that they can no longer be successfully treated by antibiotics, and people who come down with those illnesses will face much more difficult recovery processes. According to Tufts University, antibacterial cleaners may contribute to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, especially when used by medical personnel..

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Endocrine Disruption

Triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps and cleaners, may be linked to endocrine disruption and cancer. According to Colby University, triclosan can have estrogenic effects and stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Triclosan can also disrupt proper thyroid functioning. Poor thyroid function is linked to depression, weight gain, fatigue and memory loss.

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