New study defies claims that antibacterial soaps cause antibiotic resistance

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Antibiotic resistance, Bacteria

A new study funded by the personal care industry claims to provide scientific evidence that antibacterial soaps do not undermine antibiotic resistance.

The research was published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Microbiology Research and was headed up by Dr. Eugene Cole, an expert in the field of environmental health research and a member of the Brigham Young University’s department of health science.

The study concentrated on the use of triclosan and triclocarban in anti-bacterials soaps, using a pool of volunteers to determine the effect the ingredients have on antibiotic resistance across the key product categories it appears in, including oral care, deodorants and soaps.

Study included 210 volunteers

The study entailed the selection of 210 participants from a pool of 450 volunteers, with 70 individuals allocated to each of three groups, including: frequent use of bath or shower products containing triclosan, frequent use of bar soaps containing triclocarban and wash products that contained no antibacterial agents.

The study relied on a standard swabbing technique from both forearms to collect samples of Staphylococcus bacteria, which were then tested against several antibiotics that are used to treat Staph infectcions.

According to Dr. Cole, the experiments showed that there was no increase in resistance to the antibiotics in the samples isolated from either group that had been using antibacterial wash products, when compared to the isolate group.

Likewise, there was also said to be no increased resistance to triclosan or triclocarban.

'No significant resistance in antibiotic resistance'

“There was no statistically significant difference in antibiotic resistance of Staphylococcus isolated obtained from the skin of regular antibacterial wash product users in comparison with non-antibacterial product users,”​ said Dr. Cole.

Studies linking triclosan and related ingredients to hormone disruption have led other industry to speculate over its regulation.

However, the FDA is still currently assessing the safety of the ingredient and has previously approved its use in oral care products such as toothpaste as a means of fighting gingivitis.

Tricolosan regulation in Europe and the US

Triclosan and a number of related ingredients, including Triclocarban, are added to many consumer products as an antibacterial agent.

It may be found in specific products such as antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics. It is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Union.

In 2009 the European Union introduced a regulation limiting the dose levels of triclosan that can be used in personal care and cosmetic products, while in 2010 it introduced legislation that banned its use in food packaging.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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