Researchers are raising the alarm over triclosan — an antibacterial chemical commonly found in soaps, deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpastes and even toys and trash bags — after a study found that the compound might impair muscle function.
The researchers at the University of California, Davis and the University of Colorado studied heart muscle cells and skeletal muscle fibers exposed to triclosan in test tubes. They applied electrical stimulation, which would normally make the muscles contract, but the triclosan seemed to impair two proteins involved in contractions, causing the skeletal and cardiac fibers to fail at the cellular level.
The team also tested two groups of live animal subjects. They exposed sedated mice to the chemical and observed up to a 25 percent reduction in heart function levels within 20 minutes. And to mimic the effect of triclosan in marine environments, the researchers exposed fathead minnows to the chemical in the water for seven days. The exposed fish showed significantly diminished swimming ability compared to controls, the researchers reported in a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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