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All Health’s Breaking Loose:

Germaphobia — how clean are your hands?

May 06, 2010|By Loa Blasucci

As a young mother I had the phone number to Poison Control memorized. I had a child who put pretty much everything he could get his hands on into his mouth.

And since there was no Internet, I was on the phone to them constantly. I wasn’t a germaphobe, didn’t even know the term back then, but I worried about what the germs could do to him.

Nowadays, germaphobia is taking us over as a culture. On a very deep level our bodies sense the toxic world we live in, and maybe subconsciously we think we can “wash it all away.”

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But all that “rub-a-dub-dubbing” with antibacterial soap is causing us far more harm than good.

From the time we are babies, our bodies are building an immune system by becoming resistant to bacteria and harmful diseases. When a threat is recognized, it’s a call to action for our body to produce immunities to protect us.

As the immune system becomes better at fighting off infections, there is less need for allergic responses. It is a process that happens over time and continues throughout our lives.

Antibacterial soaps (and personal hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant) contain triclosan.

And here’s the real rub: Extensive research (condensed here) shows us that triclosan reacts with chlorinated water to produce the carcinogen chloroform (and other nasty chlorinated byproducts).

It is linked to thyroid disruption, abnormalities of the hormone system, weakening of the immune system, birth defects, cancer and skin sensitivity.

In 2008, several concerned groups came together in a press release to petition the EPA, calling for an end to the use of triclosan: “The nonmedical uses of triclosan are frivolous and dangerous, creating serious direct health and environmental hazards and long-term health problems associated with the creation of resistant strains of bacteria,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Many brand name products contain triclosan, so read labels before you buy.

Triclosan accumulates in the body, gets into our waterways and fish, and contributes to the problem of bacterial-resistant disease.

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