Soaps, shower gels, dentifrices: their composition makes the bacteria resistant to our antibiotics

Triclosan, a common ingredient in toothpaste and hand soap, may help make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Explanations.

Can our daily hygiene products promote bacterial resistance? This is the theory emitted by researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia. According to a study published in the scientific journal Environment International, they say that soaps, shower gels or toothpastes that we use every day would help make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Triclosan, an ubiquitous agent in hygiene products

Led by Dr. Jianhua Guo of the University of Queensland's Advanced Water Management Center, the team of researchers has tested the properties of triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in more than 2,000 Australian healthcare products. . The researchers found that, like some antibiotics, the overuse and misuse of non-antibiotic antimicrobial (NAAM) chemicals such as triclosan could "directly induce antibiotic resistance".

"These chemicals are used in much larger quantities at a daily level, so that we are left with high residual levels in the wider environment, which can lead to resistance to several drugs," says Dr. Guo. "This discovery proves that the triclosan found in the personal care products we use daily accelerates the spread of antibiotic resistance."

A controversial component

These are not the first scientific works to point out the dangerousness of triclosan. First introduced in the 1970s, especially in cleaning gels for surgeons, this antibacterial agent is now widely used in beauty products and hygiene. To the chagrin of consumer associations and some scientists. Indeed, triclosan is an endocrine disruptor that influences the thyroid hormones. Considered "worrying" by Inserm, the component is suspected of causing behavioral problems in boys from 3 to 5 years, to disrupt the liver but also to promote the development of allergies.

Professor Zhiguo Yuan, director of the Advanced Water Management Center, said the recent discovery by the University of Queensland should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the potential impact of these chemicals. "While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps, the lack of unequivocal evidence has prevented the adoption of such a policy in other countries." , did he declare. In European Union countries, the European Commission has set the maximum concentration of triclosan in the finished product at 0.3% in cosmetics. It is also allowed in mouthwashes, but at a maximum concentration of only 0.2%. However, it is prohibited in all shaving products since October 30, 2014.

Antimicrobial resistance has become a major threat to public health worldwide, with approximately 700,000 people dying each year of antimicrobial-resistant infections. The O'Neill report, commissioned by the British government in 2014, estimates that antimicrobial-resistant infections could become the leading cause of death in the world by 2050, causing 10 million deaths annually.

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