Sunday, March 03, 2019

A Common Household Ingredient Might Sabotage Your Antibiotics

Ed Cara

Your daily gob of toothpaste or spritz of body spray might be inadvertently mucking up your antibiotic treatment, suggests new research. It found that a common household antimicrobial ingredient—triclosan—seemed to reduce the potency of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections by a hundred-fold, at least in mice.

Triclosan is an ubiquitous chemical, found in everything from body wash to lip gloss to deodorant to household cleaners to mouthwash. Traditionally, it’s been advertised as an easy way to kill bacteria and fungi, seemingly without harm to humans. In recent years, though, increasing evidence has suggested otherwise.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration finalized its ban of triclosan and similar chemicals from being used in consumer soaps marketed as antimicrobial. The agency cited evidence showing antimicrobial soaps with these ingredients don’t seem to prevent illness or even kill bacteria any better than a typical bar of soap and hot water. Even more worrying is a growing pile of research showing that triclosan can actually help create bacterial superbugs.

It’s thought that the way triclosan stops bacteria is too similar to how many antibiotics do the job. So bacteria that evolve resistance to triclosan also learn how to fend off those drugs. That’s definitely bad news, because triclosan eventually ends up everywhere in our environment, where it can promote broad antibiotic resistance.


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