You’re a little germophobic…….
So you’re taking precautions. When you buy household and personal care products, you deliberately choose products that sell you on being, ANTI-BACTERIAL.
If you read the label, a lot of the time, the anti-bacterial comes courtesy of a chemical called triclosan. It’s not a new chemical, it’s been around for 40 odd years and it’s found in lots of products, including soaps, toothpastes, kitchen surface sprays, clothes and medical equipment.
It kills bacteria – ALL BACTERIA.
The way it does it’s “killing”, is it interferes with the bacteria’s ability to make fatty acids, by blocking the enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase. What a mouth full ! Since, we don’t have this…………….. it kills them, leaving us, unscathed.
But, one group of bacteria, actually find a little triclosan a “blessing”.
This is what a group of researchers from the University of Michigan discovered.
Sniffing for triclosan
The researchers sniffed up the noses of 90 healthy individuals……………. they were looking for two things
- Triclosan in the nasal secretions and
- Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that often takes up residence in people’s noses.
Triclosan in the house
They were able to detect triclosan in the nasal secretions of 37 people (41 %). To be able to detect triclosan, the concentration must be above 1.75 nM.
Now if you’re wondering what the triclosan is doing in these nasal secretions – it didn’t get there, because these people were deliberately sniffing it up. Any chemical that is hanging about in your body, distributes EVERYWHERE – everywhere includes nasal secretions.
The fact that the team could detect it, just indicates that these people were being exposed to it. One or more of the products they’re using TO KEEP CLEAN, has triclosan in it, and some of this triclosan is still in their system.
Staphylococcus aureus in the house
Next, the team correlated the triclosan levels, with whether the person was colonized by the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus.
About 30 % of people, have an “infestation” of Staphylococcus aureus.
Most of the time, it’s not a problem……
MOST OF THE TIME !
When Staphylococcus aureus comes out to play
Unfortunately, there can be a shift in the dynamics of the relationship – when this happens, Staphylococcus aureus stops playing NICELY.
The result……………….. a serious infection.
Infections that often involve a Staphylococcus aureus include diabetic foot ulcers, endocarditis and post-operative infections.
Now these infections can happen to anyone, but they’re a whole lot more likely to happen, if Staphylococcus aureus is a permanent resident.
Staphylococcus aureus likes triclosan
The team found, the folks who had detectable levels of triclosan, were a lot more likely to be colonized by Staphylococcus aureus. And the higher the triclosan levels, the higher the odds they were colonized by Staphylococcus aureus.
It seems, this group of bacteria, appreciate a little triclosan in their neighbourhood.
A bacteria thriving in the presence of a biocide ? How can this be ?
Getting your foot in the door
The team were able to establish, the reason they liked a little triclosan, was it helps them grab hold of “things” – “things” includes human proteins, plastic and glass. Since latching on, is step 1, in moving in and setting up home. The fact that triclosan, helps the bacteria attach, means the bacteria ends up with a huge advantage.
And of course, once a bacteria has set up shop anywhere – there are a whole lot more opportunities to get up to mischief. And Staphylococcus aureus uses this to its advantage.
Ironic isn’t it ?
You cleaning up to avoid the nasties, and in the process, you actually giving a nasty a foothold.
NOTE : When Staphylococcus aureus becomes drug resistant (MRSA) it is a formidable opponent, because it becomes very very very difficult to treat, making an infection with this bug, a potentially life threatening event.
Too clean for your own good
We’ve been programmed to be germaphobic……
A visit to the doctor is potentially a health hazard, what starts as a well child visit in week one, often morphs to a visit for flu-like symptoms 2 weeks later
Your digestive system is also home to a myriad of viruses, but these viruses are not attacking you………. they’re plaguing the bacteria that live in your gut.
Rub a dub dub – your kid is SPARKLING CLEAN. Too clean ? Maybe. The SPARKLING CLEAN kids are full of cleaning chemicals and allergies.
Interested in learning more about the role bacteria play in your chemistry ?
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