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Study finds association between triclosan, osteoporosis

June 28, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

A study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has found an association between osteoporosis in women and triclosan, a chemical that had been used as an antimicrobial agent in toothpaste.

Although triclosan in combination with sodium fluoride was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a drug that aids in the prevention of caries, plaque and gingivitis, toothpaste containing triclosan is no longer commercially available as of early 2019.

The study looked at 2005-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data to find an association between concentrations of triclosan in urine and osteoporosis in 1,848 U.S. women age 20 and older.

Researchers found triclosan concentrations were negatively associated with bone mineral density and positively associated with osteoporosis. However, the study notes future prospective studies are needed to validate the findings.

Earlier this year, Colgate-Palmolive Co. relaunched its Colgate Total toothpaste without triclosan. However, it maintains the safety of the earlier version of the toothpaste, stating on its website that "the efficacy and safety of the earlier Colgate Total is supported by more than 90 clinical studies, involving over 20,000 people, and a broad set of safety evaluations."

The new Colgate Total includes stannous fluoride as its only active ingredient.

"For some consumer products, there is evidence that triclosan provides a benefit," the FDA states on its website. "In 1997, FDA reviewed extensive effectiveness data on triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste. The evidence showed that triclosan in that product was effective in preventing gingivitis."

However, for other products, such as antibacterial soaps and body washes, the FDA has not received evidence that triclosan provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

In December 2017, the FDA issued a final rule regarding certain over-the-counter antiseptic products, stating companies will not be able to use triclosan in these products without premarket review because data regarding their safety and effectiveness are insufficient.

Some studies have shown triclosan could be linked to issues such as antibiotic resistance and decreasing thyroid hormones, but these studies are limited, according to the FDA.