Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Using antibacterial soap

You may be tempted to take a biological jackhammer to every microbe that dare touch your family, but the fact is there’s a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of common, household use of antibacterials. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these chemicals have been shown, in the lab, to kill off only weak bacteria—leaving the tougher ones to reproduce. That’s led many medical experts to worry that anti-bacterial soaps might be contributing to the rise of stronger bacteria, capable of fighting off our attempts to kill it. So far, this theory hasn’t been proved in a real-life setting. What has been proved, however, is that washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap isn’t anymore effective at preventing disease than hand washing with regular soap. First reported in a 2004 study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, this discovery led a Food and Drug Administration Expert Advisory Council to announce the next year that there was no proof anti-bacterial soaps lived up to their advertising claims. Bottom line: It’s just not worth the risk.


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