Monday, 8 December 2014

Handwash, Medicated Soap Can Cause Cancer, Liver Problems - Study

Handwash, Medicated Soap Can Cause Cancer, Liver Problems - Study
Well, well, well. This might sound as bad news for all recent producers of handwash and hand sanitisers as what you are about to read may baffle you.
We all know that with the scare of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)'s arrival into the country, all manner of hand sanitisers flooded the Nigerian market. First, thank God we are done with that nightmare and it is not coming back in Jesus name, amen.

While many people have imbibed the habit of proper hygiene with emphasis on hand washing and sanitizing, many are yet to let go of their hand sanitisers.
The unfortunate thing here is that while it is good to use hand sanitisers, one does not know which make is the real one, and many of them in the market are of low quality with the poorest of ingredients that poses as a threat to the user.
I found an interesting article from the Tribune newspaper and decided to bring it to your notice, read it after the cut…

Soaps and other cleansing agents have been around for quite a long time. Ancient documents have shown that right from as far back as 1500 B.C., Egyptians combined animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to form a soap-like substance used for treating skin diseases, as well as for washing. Nowadays, soaps have gone beyond being used for simply washing and are now being used for several processes which include disinfection, decontamination, antisepsis/sanitisation and sterilisation. Animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts have now been replaced with chemical ingredients in various forms with distinct formulations, most of which are touted to have antibacterial properties. Topmost on the list of these ingredients are Triclosan, trichlorocarbamide and p-chloro-m-xylenol (PCMX/chloroxylenol).

With the flooding of the market with several antibacterial products, especially medicated soaps and washes, and campaigns for their use, many believe that an antimicrobial potion of soaps is effective at preventing communicable diseases. This may be so as it has been discovered that scrubbing body or hands, particularly with soaps, is the first line of defence against bacteria and other pathogens that can cause colds, the flu, skin infections and even deadly communicable diseases. However, researchers have now drawn attention to the fact that too much of it can have the opposite effect - spreading diseases/infections instead of preventing them.
Several studies have shown that in the long run, the overutilisation of medicated/antibacterial soaps and washes might result in antimicrobial resistance and even rendering an individual more vulnerable to microbial attacks such as opportunistic skin infections.
A microbiologist, Mr. Taiwo Ajayi, corroborates this stance, saying, “Although these antibacterial soaps are effective against bacterial microorganisms, the fact remains that simply washing thoroughly with plain soap alone is enough to reduce bacteria and even some viruses. One thing we need to understand about bacteria is that with time, they can develop resistance. That is why we keep saying antibiotics should not be abused, because the microorganism will develop resistance and the drug won’t work. The same can happen with antibacterial soaps and washes.”
Moreover, long exposure to such soaps and washes depletes the body of ‘good’ bacteria which is part of a normal body’s flora.
Beyond bacteria mutating and resulting in antibacterial products being ineffective, there are fresh concerns that some of these antibacterial components, especially triclosan, may be detrimental to health.
A recent study suggests that long-term exposure to triclosan, commonly found in liquid hand soap, shampoo and other personal hygiene products, could cause cancer and liver fibrosis. This ingredient, which can also be found in some toothpastes, deodorants and various cosmetics, slows or prevents the growth of bacteria, fungi or mildew.  The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the research team exposed a group of mice to triclosan for six months - the equivalent to 18 years in humans - and compared their health with that of a group of mice not exposed to the agent.
Results of the analysis revealed that mice exposed to triclosan had significantly poorer liver health and function than those not exposed to the agent. Additionally, the exposed mice were more susceptible to tumour development in the liver, and their tumours were more frequent and larger than those of unexposed mice.
The researchers stated that triclosan produced these effects in mice by disrupting the function of the Constitutive Androstane Receptor (CAR) - a protein that clears foreign chemicals from the body. This protein is also present in humans.
Disruption to CAR causes the proliferation of liver cells, which leads to fibrosis - the development of excess tissue. If this process is repeated - triggered by long-term triclosan exposure - it can lead to tumour development.
Previous studies have revealed that triclosan alters hormone regulation in animals and might be harmful to the immune system.
In view of this, what is the way forward? “Using bland soap and running water is enough to protect the skin. What people should focus on is learning the proper way of washing.  Antibacterial soaps are not for everybody to use but are supposed to be for people with low immunity or those who have some kind of skin infections and this should used based on the recommendation of a dermatologist.” Mr Ajayi says.

Source: Tribune

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