My blog headline mimics the headlines I’ve witnessed in print for the last couple of weeks. The FDA has finally ruled on the use, overuse and abusive use of antibacterial soaps.
I’ve blogged in the past (here and here) about the dangers of overuse of antibacterial agents in soaps, as well as the use of antibiotics in raising farm animals. The primary danger is the potential to evolve bacteria into antibacterial resistant killers, thus creating a SUPER BUG that cannot be destroyed.
I’ve referred to this as a possible “post-antibiotic era” that includes an antibiotic discovery void—that void being the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to develop new antibiotics that are effective against these killer super bugs.
There was an interesting article published in 2014 in the Smithsonian Magazine that warned of the dangers of antibacterial agent overuse. A more recent article reported on the current FDA position regarding antibacterial soaps. It basically repeated the warnings expressed in that 2014 article. I’d like to share those warnings that the FDA published a couple of years ago and which lead to the current FDA policy published this summer.
The FDA has ruled the following:
- Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than washing with soap and water.
- Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria (killer super bugs).
- Antibacterial soaps may actually disrupt our body’s endocrine system since the ingredients in these products are chemically similar to hormones such as thyroid hormone.
- There is the potential that prolonged exposure to antibacterial soaps might create a greater chance of allergy development, including peanut allergies and hay fever.
- Antibacterial soaps are bad for the environment since they can remain in waste water even after treatment at sewage plants and thereby contaminate our rivers, lakes and streams.
I cannot imagine a future where a simple sore throat, a sinus infection or a cut on the arm becomes a death sentence. Without effective antibiotics, however, that fantasy future could become a reality.
The FDA is taking steps to prevent such a post-antibiotic era from happening—a time in which antibiotics are no more effective than washing with plain water.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!