Can Antibacterial Soap Shorten Lifespan?

Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 06:22 PM

By Nick Tate

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Early exposure to a common antibacterial chemical found in many soaps and consumer products has been found to shorten lifespan, according to new research involving rats.
 
The study, presented at the Endocrine Society's 95th annual meeting in San Francisco this week, determined a mother's exposure to triclocarban while nursing her babies shortens the life of her female offspring.
 
"Our study provides supporting evidence for the potential adverse effects of triclocarban exposure during early life, specifically during the lactation period," said lead researcher Rebekah Kennedy, a graduate student in the Department of Public Health at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
 
"The results indicate that a mother's long-term use of this compound might affect the early development of her offspring, at least according to our animal model."
 
Past studies have shown triclocarban can affect the growth of sex organs in adult male rats. For the new study, the researchers sought to learn if exposure to the compound, either in the womb or during lactation, would affect rat pups.
 
During pregnancy and continuing until 21 days after giving birth, female rats were divided into two groups — one fed regular rat chow and the other food supplemented with triclocarban. The doses found in the blood of maternal rats exposed to triclocarban correspond to blood levels of triclocarban in humans after a 15-minute whole-body shower using a bar soap containing 0.6 percent triclocarban.
 
The results showed rats exposed the chemical lived substantially shorter lives than those fed regular diets.
 
"Our data suggest that the critical exposure window affecting rat pup survival is related to lactation, as all pups … survived regardless of triclocarban exposure status during gestation," Kennedy said.
 
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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