Your Toothpaste May Cause Cancer

Study finds common toothpaste ingredient may up colon cancer risk

One ingredient that has recently gained a lot of attention in a negative way is a common compound used to kill bacteria. The compound, called triclosan, is often used in many household products including toothpaste and mouthwash. The reason for the negative publicity is that it has been found to promote the growth of colorectal cancer. 


The Discovery

A team of researchers from the United States and China worked together at the University of Massachusetts and did a number of tests on mice. The results of the test indicated that triclosan had caused a degree of gut inflammation in mice that were otherwise healthy. 

The tests were performed using the same level of concentration of triclosan as that which is normally found in human blood. Mice were used that had been prepared for the test. Some of them were induced to have gut inflammation prior to the test, and others were given an inflammatory bowel disease beforehand – colitis. In both cases, it either promoted inflammation or caused the cancer cell growth (tumors) to speed up their development. The addition of the compound shortened the lifespan of one group of mice.

In another set of mice that had no gut bacteria, it had no effect on them at all. This has led researchers to believe that the compound alters the bacteria in the gut. 

Triclosan is an antibacterial compound that is currently being used in more than 2,000 different consumer products. It is detected in as many as 75 percent of urine samples in the United States and it is ranked as one of the top ten pollutants in the rivers of the US. 


Conclusions of the Study

The researchers in the study concluded that although this study was performed on mice, there should be more studies conducted on triclosan. The compound is found in so many products now, that people need to know what the exact effects are. People who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in particular may want to limit their exposure to it. 

The FDA has already placed some limitations on the use of triclosan. It can no longer be used in hand soaps, but it still is in such products as dish soap. 


The FDA and Triclosan

In a more recent ruling, the FDA has concluded that a change must be made in the status of triclosan, and it has led to a triclosan ban. Along with some other products, the FDA now considers triclosan to no longer be in a class called generally recognized as safe and effective. This is because manufacturers have not submitted any new data about its safety in over-the-counter products. 

According to Ask the Dentist, the studies that were used to get triclosan approved for use in toothpaste by Colgate were all paid for by Colgate. Apparently, the studies were not totally unbiased. 


Exposure to Triclosan

In an article by Medical News Today, it mentions that it is nearly impossible to not be exposed to triclosan today in the United States. It is used in so many products – including socks, clothing, laundry soap, deodorants, facial tissues, plastic kitchen utensils, toys, and bedsheets. It has also been found in breast milk and in blood plasma. Colon cancer and IBS are on the rise across America – and it may be because of the wide-spread use of triclosan. 

Triclosan may also interfere with your immune system. A study by the National Institute of Health revealed that triclosan interferes with the immune system, leading to higher levels of inflammation and dysfunction. It may also help to eliminate normal bacteria in the environment, affecting the normal development of the human (and animal) immune systems, making people more susceptible to allergies. 


Alternatives to Triclosan

At the present time, only Colgate is using triclosan and it is only in the Colgate Total product line. This enables you to choose many other good types of healthy toothpaste. Be sure to check toothpaste ingredients before buying and avoid mouthwashes that have triclosan in them, too. 


Reduce Bad Bacteria

When you want to be sure to reduce the amount of harmful bad bacteria in your mouth, the key is to brush twice a day, and floss before you go to bed. This will remove the plaque that regularly forms on your teeth – you do not have to use triclosan toothpaste. 

You also want to eat healthy. The bad bacteria in your mouth multiply when you eat sugary foods and drinks (especially sodas). When it multiplies, it converts the sugars into an acid that corrodes the enamel on your teeth. Soda also contains an acid, and when combined, they corrode your enamel faster – leading to cavities and possibly gum disease. 

Another way to ensure you maintain healthy teeth is to have regular dental checkups. Checkups enable the dentist to spot developing trouble spots and correct them before they become costly to fix. If you live in the Carrollton, Dallas, Cedar Hill or Grapevine, TX areas, you can get regular dental checkups at the offices of Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, MBA a Board-certified Periodontist. For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can call his office today at (214) 731-0123.