Excess use of hand sanitizers and soaps are likely to increase the risk of developing a type of bone disease called osteoporosis, according to a study. The study found that women are at higher risk of developing this disease.
The research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism last month found that a chemical found in hand sanitizers and soaps called triclosan is the cause of the problem. According to the researchers, women exposed to this chemical are more likely to develop osteoporosis than those who are not exposed to it.
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that has been widely used in several cleaning products for years. Apart from hand sanitizers and soaps, triclosan is also found in personal care products and consumer goods, like mouthwash and toothpaste, the research stated.
Some earlier studies had suggested that this chemical can have a negative effect on the reproductive hormones and thyroid. But the exact effect of it on human health is yet to be known.
Triclosan has been proved to affect the bone health of animals, but there is little evidence to prove its role in making the human bones weak and brittle, lead researcher Yingjun Li of Hangzhou from Medical College School of Public Health in China said.
For the study, Li and team analyzed data from 1,848 women in the United States. They found that women with the highest triclosan levels in their urine were two and a half times more at risk of developing osteoporosis than those with the lowest levels of triclosan.
“Triclosan exposure may be a risk factor for lower bone mineral density and osteoporosis. The evidence was stronger in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women,” Li told Reuters.
The researcher further said that more than 30 percent of postmenopausal women in the country are suffering from osteoporosis. Among them, around 40 percent are likely to experience a bone fracture. It is mainly because the production of new bone tissues slows down due to a decline in estrogen production during and post-menopause period, which gradually increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Though the study did not exclusively focus on the association between triclosan and the risk of developing osteoporosis, it points out the possibilities of it, the lead researcher said.
Exposure to tryclosan might trigger changes in the production of estrogen and thyroid hormones that are responsible for the maintenance of healthy bones and normal skeletal developments in a woman’s body, Li explained.
“Triclosan could lead to lower bone mineral density and increased prevalence of osteoporosis,” he added.