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Daily News Blog

03
Jul

Triclosan Exposure Linked to Osteoporosis among U.S. Women

(Beyond Pesticides, July 3, 2019) A disturbing association between urinary triclosan concentrations and osteoporosis has been identified in an epidemiological study. Drawing from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) results for 1,848 U.S. adult women, the authors conclude that higher concentrations of urinary triclosan are associated with lower bone mass density and higher prevalence of osteoporosis among U.S. adult women.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, adds weight to previous laboratory results, which showed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as triclosan can interfere with bone metabolism. Triclosan and its byproducts are known endocrine disruptors and have been shown in laboratory studies to interfere with collagen and bone structure. Taken together with previous findings, the new epidemiological results demonstrate that the ubiquitous endocrine disruptor triclosan “could lead to lower BMD [benchmark dose] and increased prevalence of osteoporosis in U.S. adult women.”

Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial agent in products regulated by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and cumulative exposure to triclosan registered by both agencies pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. Triclosan exposure has become so common that it has shown up in the blood, urine and breast milk of people across the globe. While people who use triclosan products daily have higher levels of the chemical in their bodies, even consumers who do not use triclosan on their skin are exposed to it through food, water, and even household dust.

Several independent, peer-reviewed research studies have identified triclosan as an endocrine disrupting chemical, not only through its effects on the thyroid system but also through its disruption of ovarian and testicular steroidogenesis. A study by British researchers found that triclosan has estrogenic and androgenic hormone properties, and exposure could potentially contribute to the development of breast cancer. Despite these findings, EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) has not included triclosan among chemicals to investigate for endocrine disrupting effects. Therefore, EPA’s evaluation of triclosan fails to address one of the most concerning aspects of its chemical activity with respect to human health.

On top of its endocrine disrupting effects, recent work shows that triclosan is a possible human carcinogen. A 2016 peer-reviewed study published in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology found that triclosan promotes liver cancer cell development in mice through pathways shared with humans. EPA, however, relies on outdated science in its determination of the carcinogenicity of triclosan.

In addition to direct modes of carcinogenicity, triclosan poses risks due to release of known carcinogenic and highly toxic byproducts and impurities. Triclosan, which has been shown to be frequently present as a contaminant in finished U.S. drinking water, mixes with chlorinated drinking water to form the probable human carcinogen, chloroform. When released into surface water and exposed to sunlight, triclosan can also react with chlorinated water to form toxic polychlorinated dioxins. Dioxins have been shown to cause health problems as severe as weakening of the immune system, decreased fertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and cancer.

The present study is not the first to link triclosan exposure to adverse health outcomes in humans. A recent peer-reviewed study, for example, found an association between urinary triclosan and elevated body mass index (BMI) among NHANES survey participants. That study found that the presence versus absence of triclosan in urine was associated with a significant increase of 0.94 BMI points. Taken together, these epidemiological studies raise concern that a by-now ubiquitous chemical may be driving both increased BMI and decreased bone mass density, thus placing more people at risk of osteoporosis and other adverse health outcomes.

The new findings add yet another concern to the list of ailments that have been linked to triclosan exposure. What remains to be done is for EPA and FDA to act in accordance with these known risks, and ban all uses of triclosan, which presently contribute to unacceptable degrees of exposure impacting most of the US population. Beyond Pesticides holds that safer alternatives are available and must be used to protect public health and the environment.

Join Beyond Pesticides to end to the registration of pesticides with known adverse effects, and start of a new system of registering only those products which can be shown to be essential, effective, and least-toxic to humans and the environment. Stay abreast of new science and regulatory updates by tracking the Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Association between urinary triclosan with bone mass density and osteoporosis in the US adult women, 2005-2010 

 

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  • Archives

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    • ALS (2)
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