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Friday, August 17, 2007

Antibacterial soap beats regular soap at marketing, little else

The pervasiveness of "antibacterial" in the health and beauty section has been lamented for years by medical professionals who insist that more prophylactic antibiotic use only leads to more resistant bacteria. However, millions of Americans eschewed this common sense, buying the "safer" soaps by the handfuls. The University of Michigan decided to formally investigate antibacterial soaps, and found that they're not only clever marketing, they're useless:
"What we are saying is that these e-coli could survive in the concentrations that we use in our (consumer formulated) antibacterial soaps," Aiello said. "What it means for consumers is that we need to be aware of what's in the products. The soaps containing [antibiotic] triclosan used in the community setting are no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms, as well as reducing bacteria on the hands."
What antibacterial soaps are good for, however, is helping bacteria mutate into more resistant forms.
E-coli bacteria bugs adapted in lab experiments showed resistance when exposed to as much as 0.1 percent wt/vol triclosan soap.
So show a little marketing resistance and buy regular soap. Clean hands, weak bugs.

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