Healthy Living

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A Taste of Healthy Living

The Dirt on Anti-Bacterial Soaps

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that anti-bacterial soaps are no better at preventing infections than plain soaps and that they are actually harmful to the environment?
--Avery Bicks, New York, NY

University of Michigan researchers reviewed numerous studies conducted between 1980 and 2006 and concluded that antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan as the main active ingredient are no better at preventing infections than plain soaps. Further, the team argued that these antibacterial soaps could actually pose a health risk, because they may kill beneficial bacteria and also reduce the effectiveness of some common antibiotics, such as amoxicillin.

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