Popular antibacterial ingredient linked to IBD and gut bacteria issues

A popular antimicrobial ingredient found in a variety of consumer hygiene and health products, including soaps and toothpaste, has been linked to health problems. According to a newly published study, the ingredient triclosan may alter gut bacteria leading to other health issues, including colon inflammation and "exaggerated disease development."

The study comes from Guodong Zhang and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. According to the study, the anti-bacterial ingredient triclosan can cause colonic inflammation when administered in short-term low doses. As well, the ingredient was linked with an exaggerated disease development related to both colon cancer associated with colitis and colitis itself.

The effects were seen in mice, suggesting that triclosan may have a negative effect on gut bacteria. Multiple mouse models were used during the study, all of them showing colonic inflammation and colon tumorigenesis linked to triclosan. In mouse models that were genetically engineered to develop spontaneous IBD, the researchers found that triclosan "significantly increased" the development of that disease.

The ultimate cause of these issues appears to be triclosan's disruption of gut bacteria, resulting in a loss of diversity and ultimately a change in composition. Highlighting the gut bacteria's role in the effects are germ-free mouse models that didn't experience any effects from triclosan. A past study found that triclosan causes gut microbiome changes in humans.

The results are concerning and underscore a need to study the potential health effects of triclosan on humans. More than 2,000 consumer products contain this ingredient, and it has been detected in 75-percent of urine samples from individuals located in the United States.

SOURCE: UMass Amherst