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Triclosan Effect: Is Your Toothpaste Giving You Cancer?

The use of a chemical called triclosan in a top-selling toothpaste has provoked a lot of debate in the past weeks. The toothpaste in question, which is made by leading toothpaste manufacturer has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997.

It was only this year that the agency, following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, released all the safety data it had been withholding on this product. 

It emerged that for the past 18 years millions of people have been regularly putting in their mouths a toxin potentially linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, infertility and other health problems by using total. 

What is triclosan?
Triclosan is a pesticide and resembles a major component of the Agent Orange chemical weapon sprayed during the Vietnam War. 
Are You Safe from Cancer? 

It is also known as 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol, and has initially been used in surgical hand scrubs and other disinfectants.

It’s a derivative of 2,4-D, which is a highly toxic herbicide. Not exactly a substance you would expect to find in your toothpaste.

Colgate argues that its toothpaste is safe; a claim supported by more than 80 clinical studies involving 19 000 people. Colgate spokesman Thomas DiPiazza cites an independent 2013 Cochrane study which found no evidence of harmful effects associated with using Total.

However, triclosan has been gradually removed from other common personal care products, except for this one toothpaste. What’s more, the European Union has banned triclosan from all products that come into contact with food.

This raises questions. The FDA itself was not all that sure about approving the toothpaste as an over-the-counter drug, and had concerns the chemical could increase cancer risk. Still, it went ahead and okayed Total.

Part of the problem is that when the FDA made the decision about Total, it only looked at research findings that came from the Colgate’s labs. There was a cancer study conducted by the company, but even the FDA admits that it is hard to know how thorough it was.

Studies that were showing fatal bone malformations in mice and rats, which could signal endocrine system disruptions, were dismissed as irrelevant. However, experts agree that when a chemical is considered dangerous to animals, it would be a huge risk to take it out to human population.

When a presumably independent study showed that triclosan had no detectable effect on thyroid function in humans, it was revealed that three out of five authors received a grant from Colgate. 

One of the authors claims that the company had no input on data collection or analysis, but the doubts have nonetheless been raised.

Other companies don’t use triclosan in their oral care products. As the chemical is used in a range of other products too, following the debate, many companies have announced the arrival of triclosan-free range of products, for example pet-food dispensers.

However, the manufacturer of Total has no plans of changing the formula of its toothpaste and continues to market it as a product that promotes the health of your teeth and gums. - Online Sources 

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