(NaturalNews) Though its toxicity is well documented, the antibacterial, antifungal chemical triclosan is still being used as an active ingredient in Colgate Total toothpaste -- and has been for nearly two decades! Hidden pages of documents submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in the 1990s reveal that triclosan is a known endocrine disruptor that inhibits proper growth and development, and yet it continues to be used in a toothpaste product used by millions of Americans.
The issue centers around approval granted by the FDA in 1997 for triclosan, which for the first time allowed the chemical to be included in toothpaste. This decision was made based on company-funded studies that, according to redacted pages obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, did not adequately demonstrate the safety of triclosan. Instead, they showed that the chemical is a potential health threat.
Despite all this, the FDA approved triclosan for use in Colgate Total, apparently hiding key portions of Colgate's research that raised concerns about the chemical's safety. This became increasingly obvious after the FDA refused to disclose the full data on triclosan, sparking a lawsuit that eventually forced the agency to hand over this data in the public interest.
According to Bloomberg, key pages from the 35-page summary on triclosan's toxicity reveal that the chemical mimics thyroid hormones, a fact that was withheld when the FDA first green-lighted it for use in toothpaste. Mice and rats exposed to small doses of the chemical, similar to what humans encounter when using toothpaste containing triclosan, experienced fetal bone malformations that experts say point to endocrine disruption.
Other key points from the summary reveal that triclosan can cause cancer, something that was never revealed or addressed by the FDA on behalf of public safety. Instead, these and other risks were concealed, suggesting that Colgate had conspired with the FDA to present triclosan in the safest possible light without raising public concern.
"We have created a system where we are testing these chemicals out on the human population," said Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMA), who specializes in endocrine-disrupting chemicals. "I love the idea [that] they are all safe, but when we have studies on animals that suggest otherwise, I think we're taking a huge risk."
Consumers ditching Colgate Total by the thousands amid triclosan risks
Colgate insists that triclosan is safe, pointing out on its Colgate Total "Health Benefits" page that the chemical can help fight gum disease and periodontal inflammation when used as directed. But consumers aren't convinced, with many of them who previously used Colgate Total reporting to Bloomberg that they've switched to other brands.
"If there's even a chance something's a health risk, I don't want to take it," said Nancy Hirsch, a 44-year-old mom from Brooklyn who used to scoff at the idea of using alternative or natural toothpaste brands. Now, she is singing a much different tune.
Others, including 56-year-old Dr. Elliot Davis, a Manhattan-based dentist, have known about triclosan for years. Dr. Davis reportedly stopped advising his patients to use Colgate Total in 2011 after safety concerns about the chemical began to emerge in Europe.
"Some of the toothpastes had removed it, and one company was staunchly defending it," recalled Dr. Davis, as quoted by Bloomberg. Immediately, he says, he "started to avoid products that had it."