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The Myth of Antibacterial Soaps Finally Debunked

The FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee wasted little time late last week to determine antibacterial formulations are no better than ordinary soap and water for fighting illness, something I've been telling you about since 1998.

You're probably also aware -- besides being completely unnecessary -- antibacterials frequently do more harm than good, because the compounds found in most of these soaps contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In fact, antibacterial soaps didn't reduce the number of infections in households versus soap and water, according to the panel's review of existing studies.

Although the committee recommended no immediate regulatory action be taken, they agreed the FDA should investigate the health risks of antibacterials versus the benefits. The agency certainly has the authority to require warning labels on these products and place restrictions on how they are marketed, but how, if and when that happens is anyone's guess.

If you're at all uncertain about antibacterial soaps, remember this: Triclosan, the active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps, kills human cells along with the bacteria.

Washington Post October 21, 2005

Yahoo News October 20, 2005

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