Women exposed to a chemical found in some anti-bacterial soaps are more likely to break their bones, a study suggests.
The gender-bending chemical triclosan could be a risk factor for the bone disease osteoporosis, researchers said.
Triclosan, used in some toothpaste, soaps, mouthwashes, and some cosmetics, has previously been linked to bowel cancer and antibiotic resistance.
It has already been banned in some products in the US, such as over-the-counter hand sanitisers. But no such ban exists in the UK.
However, little is known about the relationship between triclosan and human bone health.
‘As far as we know, this is the first epidemiological study to investigate the association between triclosan exposure with bone mineral density and osteoporosis in a nationally representative sample from US adult women.’
The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned triclosan from antiseptic and antibacterial hand rubs and hand washes in 2016. It declared the chemical was no more effective at killing bugs than hot water and regular cleansers.
Regulators in the UK did not follow suit, however its use is being phased out gradually in Europe.
Unilever is one manufacturer that has phased out triclosan from its entire range of products in response to consumer demand, although it says it is confident the chemical is safe.
It is considered to be an endocrine-disruptor, a group of chemicals often referred to as gender-bending because they are thought to alter the bodies’ hormones by mimicking or blocking them.
When people use a product containing triclosan, they can absorb a small amount through their skin or mouth.
A 2008 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found triclosan in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested.
They stated that some animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan may decrease levels of some thyroid hormones.