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FDA Seeks Tougher Rules For Antibacterial Soaps

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the getting-clean dept.

Government 160

barlevg writes "It's long been a concern that the widespread use of antibacterial soaps is contributing towards the evolution of drug-resistant 'superbugs,' but as the Washington Post reports, the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water. Under the terms of a proposal under consideration, the FDA will require that manufacturers making such claims will have to show proof. If they fail to do so, they will be required to change their marketing or even stop selling the products altogether."

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160 comments

Good. This should kill Dial (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706793)

It doesn't have enough perfumes or residue that stays behind. You get clean with it, but you don't stay smelling clean like with other soaps. It needs to die.

Re:Good. This should kill Dial (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706813)

I once read that Republicans used Dial more than two to one over normal people. You are right that it should die, but it probably won't because they have too muhc influence in the government.

Wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706925)

They don't use Dial. They all use lye soap which why they're so good at lying. Ha! They're stupid.

Re:Wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707037)

They don't use Dial. They all use lye soap which why they're so good at lying. Ha! They're stupid.

At least, unlike you idiotic far-left hippies, they bathe.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707747)

Ah come on dude, we left Zucotti park clean... We had the place hosed down after the man threw us out.. We are cleaner than the dirty 1%...

Come on (5, Insightful)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 4 months ago | (#45706803)

The bigger problem is antibiotic use on farms, and the FDA's recent toothless rules ( http://theweek.com/article/index/254057/why-the-fdas-new-antibiotic-rules-fall-short [theweek.com] ) rely on the farmers who use them to mediate the results of cruel conditions (overcrowding, etc) and the companies who sell them to voluntarily cut back on their use. Good luck with that.

Meantime they hit hard on Purell users. Bah.

Re:Come on (2)

blueg3 (192743) | about 4 months ago | (#45706857)

Purell is neither soap nor "antibacterial" in this sense.

Re:Come on (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 4 months ago | (#45707259)

I thought it was considered an "antibacterial". I've learned something but can't edit my post (the point of which remains intact) else I would. Thanks.

Re:Come on (2)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 4 months ago | (#45707639)

It is anti-bacterial. It just isn't done with antibiotics. And there isn't a resistance. Not that would be a hideous situation.

Re:Come on (3, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#45707945)

It is anti-bacterial. It just isn't done with antibiotics. And there isn't a resistance. Not that would be a hideous situation.

Plenty of organisms develop resistances to alcohol, bleach, peroxide, and other things we use.
I don't know why people believe otherwise. Your own skin is evidence of such resistance. Your typical seed is resistant to harsh stomach acids. Mold spores resist the hell out of crap. And water bears are on a whole other level.
You could pick just about any bacteria or virus you want and breed in resistance to ethanol, chlorine, fire, whatever. Whether or not the resulting generation of bacteria or virus does the same thing afterward is a separate issue.

Re:Come on (3, Interesting)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#45708281)

I don't know why people believe otherwise. Your own skin is evidence of such resistance.

Because becoming immune to an oxidizing agent is a heck of a lot different than becoming immune to something targetting specific proteins / receptors / metabolic paths.

Ie, becoming immune to bleach would be sort of like if a bacteria became immune to breaching the cell wall with a needle.

Re:Come on (2)

jafiwam (310805) | about 4 months ago | (#45708305)

It is anti-bacterial. It just isn't done with antibiotics. And there isn't a resistance. Not that would be a hideous situation.

Plenty of organisms develop resistances to alcohol, bleach, peroxide, and other things we use. I don't know why people believe otherwise. Your own skin is evidence of such resistance. Your typical seed is resistant to harsh stomach acids. Mold spores resist the hell out of crap. And water bears are on a whole other level. You could pick just about any bacteria or virus you want and breed in resistance to ethanol, chlorine, fire, whatever. Whether or not the resulting generation of bacteria or virus does the same thing afterward is a separate issue.

That "separate issue" is the only important part. The truth is, bleach, alcohol, and a variety of other stuff that renders the life form deaded work Those things have not yet, or rarely have had a resistance develop that both allows the organism to carry on, but also live in the environment.

It simply hasn't happened. So those tools continue to work. Because they might not work due to as of yet not described mechanism the organisms might magically create isn't a good reason not to use them.

Re:Come on (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#45706947)

The antibacterial in most hand sanitizers [wikipedia.org] is simply alcohol. Microbes cannot build up a resistance to the 50% or better alcohol content. However it isn't effective against all microbes, no bacteria can survive it [infectionc...ltoday.com] .

Re:Come on (4, Informative)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#45707019)

The antibacterial in most hand sanitizers [wikipedia.org] is simply alcohol.

Yes, but hand sanitizers are not the subject of the article. "Antibacterial soaps" are, which is an entirely different subject.

what happen to the old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708781)

Working in the food industry we use a thing called BLEACH. It is an acid, therefor unless bugs can find a way to protect themselves from it they can't evolve beyond being the good old bug they are now. (sorry for the sarcasm)

Now whether the Bleach actually works is something I have yet to explore, via the internet, or research studies. But I notice Bleach cleaners are not getting targeted, as of yet.
This is what makes the U.S. funny, companies pushing BS products onto people, instead of groups reminding people about something effective and simple like bleach.

There is good bacteria too. (5, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#45707117)

We are covered with bacteria a lot of it is rather helpful to us. So by using Anti-bacterial soap we do kill off the good bacteria too.
Or worse we make the good Bacteria go bad. Because when we try to kill it, it gives off chemicals to try to protect itself which then turns harmful for us.

We are better off washing our hands with normal soap, which washes away large colonies of bacteria, but doesn't kill them off, as well as foreign contaminates that could cause problems too.

Re:There is good bacteria too. (4, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 4 months ago | (#45707419)

We are covered with bacteria a lot of it is rather helpful to us. So by using Anti-bacterial soap we do kill off the good bacteria too.

Absoolutely. The hygiene hypothesis [wikipedia.org] suggests that those "good" bacteria not only play a role in things like digestion, etc., but also may be necessary for a normal functioning immune system.

It may be even worse than that. Triclosan, one of the most common compound used in antibacterial soaps, tends to hang out in the environment for quite a while [wired.com] . What is the effect of large amounts of antibacterial stuff ending up in our systems and the environment around us? Could it eventually disrupt the growth of the normal bacterial biome around us, which is necessary to the normal functioning of our bodies?

I don't think we should be alarmist about this, but it's something at least worth studying, and perhaps being a bit cautious about.

Re:There is good bacteria too. (3, Informative)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#45708619)

We are covered with bacteria a lot of it is rather helpful to us. So by using Anti-bacterial soap we do kill off the good bacteria too..

In this case, probably not. Most studies on OTC soaps containing Triclosan (the antibiotic used in "antimicrobial" soaps) shows that it is, at the levels allowed in those products, virtually useless. There is no difference in bacteria counts (good or bad) between using those and regular non-medicated soaps. All it does is allow the exposed bacteria to develop an immunity to it, as well as contaminating the environment.

Re:Come on (4, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 4 months ago | (#45707163)

The U.S. FDA differs from the corresponding agencies in other First World countries because it has a different standard for determining safety. Usually, a manufacturer has to prove a new chemical is safe before they can put it on the market. In the U.S., the standard is different. Unless a third party can prove to their satisfaction that the product is unsafe, the manufacturer can continue to sell it. This is why bisphenol-A, for example, is used in the lining of all canned foods in the U.S. and not in other countries. Although studies have repeatedly come out indicating that it binds to estrogen receptors and mimics estrogen in some ways, the FDA has claimed that no one study in humans has conclusively proven that BPA has effects. BPA studies are difficult in humans because it's impossible to shield a control group from exposure to it- virtually all foods sold in the U.S. are laced with it, with no labeling requirements whatsoever. China has banned the use of BPA, but still manufactures millions of tons for exports to the U.S.

Re:Come on (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#45707417)

Usually, a manufacturer has to prove a new chemical is safe before they can put it on the market.

I find myself curious.

How does one go about PROVING a chemical to be safe?

Re:Come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708535)

I find myself curious.

How does one go about PROVING a chemical to be safe?

Primarily, with a controlled study comparing an exposed population with an unexposed population.

Is there another option?

Re:Come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707497)

Personally, I think an even bigger problem is:

the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water.

How many besides me knows there is a biological difference between "bacteria" and "germ"? And why don't the ponces at the FDA get their vernacular straight?

A new product (-1, Troll)

YoureGoingToHell (3452735) | about 4 months ago | (#45706821)

Somebody needs to come out with an antibiotic soap which kills the microbes who inhabit the FDA. The country would be a lot better place without those parasites around.

Re:A new product (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706965)

Why, because you believe companies should be able to make any old unsubstantiated health claim in their products and that will be OK?

Because that would turn out so well.

You idiots who think the regulatory bodies are parasites are short-sighted morons if you think they don't actually keep things safe.

But keep up with your Tea Party rallying cries, and let the world see what kinds of stupid things they say.

Re:A new product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707105)

What does the Tea Party have to do with anything?

Re:A new product (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about 4 months ago | (#45707297)

What unsubstantiated health claim are soap companies making with antibacterial soaps? Do they not kill germs?

Re:A new product (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707605)

What unsubstantiated health claim are soap companies making with antibacterial soaps? Do they not kill germs?

More accurately, we know that washing with the soap removes germs. No one has bothered to require that the soap companies prove that it's the antibacterial agents killing the germs and not just the act of washing that does it.

The FDA is now saying that they want the soap companies to prove that their antibacterial soap outperforms non-antibacterial soap, or to remove claims that imply it does from their marketing materials.

Re:A new product (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#45708081)

But keep up with your Tea Party rallying cries, and let the world see what kinds of stupid things they say.

I've heard the Tea Party advocate for doing away with most of the the EPA, Department of Energy and Department of Education, but the FDA? Haven't heard anybody on the right asking for that. They advocate for "smaller government" not zero government.

Re:A new product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708601)

I've heard the Tea Party advocate for doing away with most of the the EPA, Department of Energy and Department of Education, but the FDA? Haven't heard anybody on the right asking for that.

You haven't listened very hard, then. I've heard it multiple times.

Testing Inaccurate? (2)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 4 months ago | (#45706843)

Only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria. Maybe if the general population washed their hands properly there would be time for the antibacterial agents to go to work. Instead we instantly scrub our hands clean and follow up with a solid sniff to make sure they smell good, because if it smells clean then it is clean method works every time.

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706901)

Only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria.

I'd like to see a citation. I'm not sure how well the period of washing "long enough to kill infection causing germs and bacteria" is known. If you are talking about surgeons, who are putting their hands inside a body cavity, yes, I will accept that you want your doctor to do a very long scrub with vigorous soap. For ordinary day to day human interactions, however, I'd really like to see a good citation for the claim that you need to wash your hands for a minimum of thirty seconds and scrubbing vigorously or it's worthless. Show me the evidence.

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#45707157)

You should wash your hands long enough to sing Happy Birthday(c) twice.

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707225)

Yes yes, and then you should spin around 3 times to the left, walk twice back and forth to the door, and then wash them two more times. Spin to the left on even repetitions. If you get it wrong, you must start over.

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707917)

I'm just slowly reading down the comments here and I hit yours, man that got me laughing. Thanks for that. :")

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (5, Funny)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#45708811)

You should wash your hands long enough to sing Happy Birthday(c) twice.

That's long enough to scrub off the bacteria. Also, entirely coincidentally, long enough for the RIAA to get a fix on your position.

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707603)

I used to date a nurse, that would go into classrooms to teach this stuff. Basically, if you want proof, cover your hands in glitter, then try to wash it off. Note the time. Sometimes the simplest demonstrations are best.

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707911)

Explain how washing glitter off your hands has anything to do with bacteria. Sometimes the simplest demonstrations are just irrelevant and stupid and have no basis in reality.

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708273)

Replace with anything else that is small that sticks to your skin, and is visible so that you know when it really has been completely removed? Do it with the dirt of the inside of your keyboard if you prefer.

Or you just want someone to Google for you? Fine, you're really so lazy and ignorant that you need someone to use a global computer network to look up how to wash your friggin' hands...

From here [cdc.gov] , which has many many papers cited for every step of the process of washing one's hands:

Why? Determining the optimal length of time for handwashing is difficult because few studies about the health impacts of altering handwashing times have been done. Of those that exist, nearly all have measured reductions in overall numbers of microbes, only a small proportion of which can cause illness, and have not measured impacts on health. Solely reducing numbers of microbes on hands is not necessarily linked to better health 1. The optimal length of time for handwashing is also likely to depend on many factors, including the type and amount of soil on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands. For example, surgeons are likely to come into contact with disease-causing germs and risk spreading serious infections to vulnerable patients, so they may need to wash hands longer than a woman before she prepares her own lunch at home. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods 2-4.
Accordingly, many countries and global organizations have adopted recommendations to wash hands for about 20 seconds (some recommend an additional 20-30 seconds for drying):

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (5, Informative)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#45708693)

Because washing your hands does not "kill' bacteria, it dislodges them so they can be washed away. The demonstration is extremely valid in demonstrating how long it actually takes to clean the hands of something that tends to cling. Is it a perfect model? No. It is, however, a very good educational too. Most people do not wash their hands properly because they a) miss regions such as the wrist or the thumb and b) they do not wash long enough to be effective. It's the reason that most hospitals have hand washing education programs for their staff.

http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/ [cdc.gov]

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (1)

sporkbender (986804) | about 4 months ago | (#45708771)

I haven't tried glitter myself, but I've tried a glow-in the dark liquid makeup substance. The point isn't to teach how well soap breaks down whatever the Nurse is putting on your hands, it is to teach how long the healthcare worker needs to scrub to take it off their hands. And because the makeup stuff would stick to the crevasses of fingernails and such, it took a lot of washing. After washing, the nurse turned out the lights and showed how some people would still have glowy stuff all over their hands, especially around the fingernails.

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708209)

So how long does soap take to break down the cell walls of glitter?

Re: Testing Inaccurate? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708357)

Soap doesn't break down the cell walls of anything, genius. You just failed kindergarten.

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708309)

The Founding Fathers didn't wash their hands, so why should I! (Seriously, hand-washing came into favor in the 1840s.)

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#45706903)

Only 5 percent of people properly washed their hands long enough to kill infection-causing germs and bacteria. Maybe if the general population washed their hands properly there would be time for the antibacterial agents to go to work. Instead we instantly scrub our hands clean and follow up with a solid sniff to make sure they smell good, because if it smells clean then it is clean method works every time.

And this paragraph of purely speculative nonsense has what to do with hand-wash manufacturers making dubious product claims?

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (3, Interesting)

barlevg (2111272) | about 4 months ago | (#45706913)

Even if the problem is "between the dispenser and the faucet," [wikipedia.org] as it were, it's still a problem. It's not like these soaps feature huge warning labels or, hell, even legibly-sized instructions, that say, "YOU MUST RINSE YOUR HANDS FOR UPWARDS OF TWO MINUTES OR ELSE THE SUPERBUGS WIN!!!" If they did that, then I think your argument would be valid, but when you make a product KNOWING that most people won't devote that long to scrubbing and you know that failure to do so will just lead to antibacterial-resistant strains, I call that negligence.

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (3, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#45706927)

the main purpose of soap in washing skin is merely to make the slime coat of (most) the bacteria not cling to you so they can be rinsed away, not to kill them. That's why plain old soap is good enough, and these chlorinated organics are not necessary in normal household use. The chemicals and special soaps containing them do have some legitimate use in certain medical protocols, but not for any use by the average consumer

Re:Testing Inaccurate? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#45707559)

You're focused on the wrong medicine!

There are drugs for OCD these days. Fretting about clean hands is a very common for of OCD - if you find yourself worrying about it on a daily basis, seek professional help for your mental illness.

there is proof (5, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#45706853)

the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does. Trivial to prove soaps with them they kill bacteria, that's already been done. they are even used to kill resistant bacterias on skin in certain medical protocols, look it up.

I'm allergic to one of the chemical, so I won't be crying if they are banned. but the "tin foil hat" health sites make absurd claims about their contributing to the breeding of super bugs

Re:there is proof (4, Insightful)

barlevg (2111272) | about 4 months ago | (#45706949)

The issue is not whether they kill germs. Hell, "old age" will eventually kill bacteria. [researchgate.net] The issue is whether antibacterial soaps are any more effective than just soap and water.

Re:there is proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707175)

How to convince people to give you +5 insightful.

1) Google the phrase you are looking for
2) Press "I'm feeling lucky"
3) Copy hyperlink to resulting web page.
4) Use hyperlink in phrase in your slashdot post.
5) Hope no one notices that the page is just a bunch of people talking past each other and really doesn't answer the question.
6) ???
7) Profit

Re:there is proof (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 4 months ago | (#45707975)

Microbes can live on household surfaces for hundreds of years, however, is that most don't. Some well-known viruses, like HIV, live only a few seconds.

Silly me for not bothering to read past the answer to my question. Microbes aren't immortal. Ergo, they can die from "old age." Possibly obvious and not worth linking to? Granted.

Genetically modified salmon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706973)

Interesting how the FDA asks soap manufacturers to "prove its safe", but refuses to ask manufacturers of genetically modified salmon to do the same.

At least the soap manufacturers are *allowed* to label their soap as having or not having anti-bacterials.

Re:there is proof (3, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#45706987)

I think you missed the point of the article;

the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water.

It is a given that soap kills bacteria. It is also a given that antibacterial agents kill bacteria. What the FDA want is proof that soap with additional antibacterial agents kill more bacteria than soap alone. It could be that the soap and the anti bacterial agent would kill the same bacteria leaving the same bacteria alive. In that case there would be no difference between regular soap and antibacterial soap.

Re:there is proof (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#45707057)

clinical studies already done and that's why there are medical protocols that use soaps with anti-bacterials. but I don't expect the FDA to be educated in nor to do research in medical matters, being as they are merely paid cunts of large corporations.

Re:there is proof (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#45707375)

The clinical studies are pertinent to the soaps that are in the studies. Every different soap company has a different formulation for their antibacterial soaps. Some are probably more effective than others. Calling all antibacterial soaps effective because they contain antibacterial ingredients is similar to stating all tablets containing aspirin are effective for treating headaches. What if the tablet only contains one milligram of aspirin? It is not just the presence of certain ingredients but the dose that matters. If the soaps do not contain enough antibacterial they would be no more effective than plain soap.

Re:there is proof (2)

iroll (717924) | about 4 months ago | (#45707399)

The surgical soaps that use the same anti-microbials use them in much, much larger doses where a premium is paid for sterility. The quantity present in most personal care products is pointless for the intended purpose, and they have been demonstrated to be endocrine disruptors, to accumulate in human tissue, to accumulate in the solid byproduct of waste-water treatment, to accumulate in sediment downstream of said treatment plants, and there is a strong suggestion that these environmental reservoirs will exert a selective pressure towards resistance in the exact bugs that we don't want to resist them.

Then again, I don't expect an internet blow-hard to be educated in nor do research in medical matters, considering that you're the guy who just said they're "not antibiotics" because they're just "chlorinated compounds" that "poison" the bacteria. Here's a clue: nobody is arguing that resistance to triclocarban will cause resistance to penicillian. People in the know don't want bacteria that are resistant to triclocarban and they don't think that worthless claims about handsoap and toothpaste are worth the human and bacteriological risks.

It's pretty obvious that you've got, at best, a high-school level understanding of the mechanisms at work. While I applaud your interest in the subject, I would suggest you back down from your high horse just a bit.

Re:there is proof (5, Informative)

Ted Stockwell (2878303) | about 4 months ago | (#45707111)

It is a given that soap kills bacteria.

Soap doesn't kill bacteria, it merely dissolves the oil that enables the bacteria to cling to your skin, thus allowing water to flush them away.
Soap and water is so effective at removing bacteria that adding a microbial agent to the soap has no benefit, because there are so few bacteria left on your skin to kill...

Re:there is proof (5, Informative)

pesho (843750) | about 4 months ago | (#45708973)

Soap will actually kill Gram-negative bacteria, by dissolving their cell membranes. Gram-positive bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc are going to be harder to kill by soap. Any spores will be completely resistant. This however is not the point. You use the soap not to kill the bugs, but to wash them away.

Re:there is proof (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 4 months ago | (#45707125)

It is a given that soap kills bacteria.

My understanding is that soap does not kill bacteria, but rather removes them from the skin so they can rinse down the drain. A quick search seems to confirm this, but I haven't found a quality citation.

Re:there is proof (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#45707059)

the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

True. However there is still the possibility that bacteria will develop resistance to these poisons, and there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other.

Re:there is proof (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#45707319)

there are chemicals for which no bacteria can have resistance, they are uniformly destroyed. These poison chemicals are what are used in the soaps (alcohol, chlorinated organics), they kill all bacteria, no exceptions.

Re:there is proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708719)

However there is still the possibility that bacteria will develop resistance to these poisons, and there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other.

Wrong. And stupid. Stupid and wrong.

Re:there is proof (1)

Sique (173459) | about 4 months ago | (#45707381)

Actually, antibiotics poison bacteria. "Poisonous" just means that it messes something up in the metabolism to cause harm. Antibiotics happen to be poisons that mainly poison bacteria and are harmless to other organisms. They influence compounds and chemical reactions that only or mainly exist in bacteria. Penicillin (and other beta-lactams) for instance supresses the synthetization of the peptidoglycides needed by Gram-positive bacteria to build their cell walls. Thus the (Gram-positive) bacteria can't grow or multiply anymore and can't repair damages in existing cell walls, causing the bacteria to die off. Other organisms with a different cell wall structure like Gram-negative bacteria or non-bacterial organisms don't get poisoned by beta-lactams.

And organisms can also evolve resistance to other poisons.

Triclosan vs. isoniazid & ciprofloxacin (5, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | about 4 months ago | (#45708765)

the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

All antibiotics poison bacteria in some way, and several are chlorinated hydrocarbons, e.g. vancomycin, clindamycin, clofazimine, chloramphenicol, thiamphenicol, etc. Antibiotics are widely varied category of chemicals, and while triclosan isn't directly related to any families I'm aware of, that doesn't mean that resistance to it would be useless against antibiotics that operate on the same system.

A mutation capable of resisting the effects of one class of chemicals can often be useful for resisting very different chemicals that have the same effect. Triclosan works at higher, lethal concentrations by disrupting bacterial cell membranes. At lower concentrations it also suppresses fatty acid formation necessary for cell membrane creation by binding up two enzymes necessary for the process: ENR [wikipedia.org] and NAD+ [wikipedia.org] . (This prevents reproduction but doesn't kill.)

Isoniazid [wikipedia.org] is one of our first-line treatments for tuberculosis. Interestingly, it also works by binding to NADH and then binding to ENR and blocking fatty acid synthesis. Studies have shown that some strains of isoniazid-resistant mycobacteria are also pretty resistant to triclosan [mville.edu] as a result. Others aren't, because they developed mutations that affected other parts of the process of the drug's interaction. These are unrelated compounds, but a mutation that affects an enzyme they both act on can promote resistance to both.

There is also evidence that evolution of triclosan resistance can increase resistance to ciprofloxacin. [asm.org] In that case, the mutation was to increase the expression of certain efflux pumps, used to pump toxic chemicals out of the cell. Turns out in that case that the same pump was used as part of the processes to eliminate both toxins.

So, in summary, while there isn't any evidence that triclosan is responsible for anywhere near the damage that usage in livestock has done, it's probably not a good idea to keep using a chemical that has risks in a situation where it has little benefit because it can aid in the development of resistance for some antibiotics.

Re:there is proof (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#45708901)

the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

That may or may not be true. There is ongoing research into MERSA regarding Triclosan resistance and antibiotic resistance and if there may be a link. The theory they are investigating is whether or not one of the genetic changes that allows for Triclosan resistance may also affect antibiotic efficiency. There is also the problem that Triclosan resistance can impart resistance to other biocides as well. Finally, keep in mind that Triclosan is (or was) one of the first-line biocides against MERSA, so creating more opportunity for the microbes to develop resistance for no good reason is just crazy. The levels of triclosan in OTC medicated soaps is just too low to be effective. Studies have shown this, when comparing bacterial cultures from hands washed with them vs. traditional soaps.

Re:there is proof (1)

pesho (843750) | about 4 months ago | (#45708919)

The fact that soap kills bacteria is largely irrelevant. Soap's mode of action, as for any other detergent, is to remove the impurities from the surface. Whether the said impurities are dead or alive makes no difference to the persons washing their hands as long as their are washed away. What is relevant is that the wide use anti-bactericidal additives has two unintended consequences:

1. Creates resistance, which will become a problem in cases were you don't have the option to wash a surface but have to rely on killing the buggers.

2. Creates false sense of security, because they kill only live bacteria. These compounds will have absolutely no effect on spores. This is probably more relevant to the hand sanitizers which have become exceedingly popular.

finally (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706865)

A welcome squirt of sanity on the filthy hands of marketing bullsh*t.
"Oh I don't vaccinate my children, that causes autism. Now where's the lysol, I need to spray my whole house to keep my family healthy"

Useless (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 months ago | (#45706945)

Even if they do kill some bacteria, the important thing is whether they have efficacy in preventing disease. For that matter, killing too many bacteria could even encourage disease, by reducing the effectiveness of our immune systems.

Re:Useless (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 4 months ago | (#45707201)

Even if they do kill some bacteria, the important thing is whether they have efficacy in preventing disease. For that matter, killing too many bacteria could even encourage disease, by reducing the effectiveness of our immune systems.

Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis [wikipedia.org] has been getting a lot of attention lately. Some blame some of the growth of autoimmune diseases in recent years on overactive immune systems that don't have enough normal bacteria around to function as they would in the natural world.

We have so many bacteria living inside of us doing good things. Our bodies couldn't function effectively without them. Completely sterilizing parts of our skin repeatedly could also have unwanted side effects.

If you're dealing with people who have compromised immune systems, but all means kill all the stuff on your hands. If you're a surgeon who is going to be sticking your hands inside of someone and wants to prevent infection, by all means, scrub like crazy.

But continuously dropping a chemical "bomb" on your hands many times per day to keep them sterile just for the heck of it? Even if it might prevent a cold or two each year, the potential side effects to fundamentally changing our interaction with the bacterial ecosystem that naturally surrounds our bodies are at best unpredictable... at worst, they could disrupt some basic functions in our bodies.

Re:Useless (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 months ago | (#45707373)

Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis has been getting a lot of attention lately.

And it only took 14 years since George Carlin [youtube.com] introduced it. Personally, it seems to me that if children emerge from the womb with an instinctual urge to put everything they can get their hands on in their mouth, there must be some evolutionary benefit to that.

Re:Useless (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 4 months ago | (#45707729)

Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis has been getting a lot of attention lately.

Sadly not enough. I still get dirty looks (pun partially intended) from parents who see my kids playing in the dirt patch that becomes the garden. Kids love dirt and muck and as long as they aren't trampling the plants I don't care if they play in there.

Re:Useless (3, Informative)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 4 months ago | (#45707587)

I believe the proper way to deal with bacteria is environmental. If you wash with soap and water and don't try too hard to kill anything living on your hands, chances are you remove gunk that will provide a habitat for dangerous bacteria and not kill what is there. Your body is flooded with bacteria so you might as well get used to the occupants you have that are doing you no harm.

An effective anti-bacterial agent, in my book, is quite dangerous as it wipes out the bacteria you've got and leaves and ecological niche for bacteria who are not necessarily on friendly terms.

We have this same issue with our crazy modern diet, where we eat foods that don't grow healthy stomach bacteria. I think a lot of allergies and food cravings can be caused by growing the wrong intestinal flora.

>> this isn't as controversial a subject as it was twenty years ago, so maybe Doctors are catching up finally.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708695)

No, that is not the important thing, because the manufacturers are not claiming that using the soap will prevent disease.

They are claiming that the product kills bacteria, which it does.

What is this world coming to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706957)

...when we ask manufacturers to provide proof for the claims they make about their products!?!

Re:What is this world coming to... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#45708253)

We may be on the right track making manufacturers prove their claims, but until we have the same standard for politicians, we will not have arrived anywhere close to our desired destination.

Might be true (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | about 4 months ago | (#45707045)

But I'm having a hard time believing them. Time and again it turns out money is involved in "objective" advice.

Logic (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#45707051)

The article seems to refer to two interesting statements that when combined have an interesting outcome.
1. Antibacterial soaps are only killing weak bacteria thereby leaving superbugs to grow unchecked
2. Soap kills the same bacteria as antibacterial soaps.

If you combine the two the outcome seems to be the following
Since soap kills the same bacteria as antibacterial soaps the use of soap is contributing to the growth of superbugs.

It would seem that one of those initial premises are probably incorrect.

I think that some antibacterial soaps are better than regular soap but the manufacturer needs to show proof before claiming it.

Re:Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707139)

1. Antibacterial soaps are only killing weak bacteria thereby leaving superbugs to grow unchecked

That's your wrong one. Superbugs are resistant to antibiotics, not the pointless stuff they put in soap these days. There's no way for a bacteria to become resistant to penicillin by being exposed Triclosan. That's just silly.

Re:Logic (5, Informative)

LunaticTippy (872397) | about 4 months ago | (#45707307)

That's your wrong one. Superbugs are resistant to antibiotics, not the pointless stuff they put in soap these days. There's no way for a bacteria to become resistant to penicillin by being exposed Triclosan. That's just silly.

Your casual dismissal of this possibility seems logical but is incorrect. There are numerous studies of cross resistance between triclosan and antibiotics, Here [nih.gov] is one showing several bacteria that evolve resistance to antibiotics after being exposed to sublethal doses of triclosan. This implies that dosing our wastewater with low levels of triclosan is reckless and had better have strong evidence that it does some good. It is definitely doing some bad!

Re:Logic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45708393)

That's not what the study says. It says that the bacteria in these strains that are born resistant to triclosan are also resistant to certain antibiotics. This "sub-lethal" dose, as you described it, killed 999,999 out of 1,000,000 bacteria in those strains. It just so happened that the specific amino acid expression that allowed those mutants to survive not only made them able to survive the triclosan exposure, but also exposure to certain, named clinical antibiotics. What you're describing was just an implication of the study.

Re:Logic (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 months ago | (#45707363)

There's no way for a bacteria to become resistant to penicillin by being exposed Triclosan.

That's not relevant. If the bacteria that you get on your hands is caught from someone who's received a treatment of penicillin, you end up with bacteria that's resistant to both.

Re:Logic (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#45707463)

I stand corrected. Another poster pointed out that soap does not kill bacteria but removes it from the skin. That leaves the bacteria in the waste water and therefore less of a breeding ground for superbugs.

You can pry my antibacterial soap (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45707233)

from my warm, well-sanitized hands.

Dioxin Funtime (4, Interesting)

Kagato (116051) | about 4 months ago | (#45707387)

The biggest issue the the common antibacterial agent in soaps combines with other household cleaners water treatment chemicals to produce a dioxin like substance. Studies are starting to showing negative environmental impacts to takes and rivers as a result.

This is silly (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#45707461)

So, the FDA is going to require manufacturers to prove their antibacterial soap does something worthwhile, eh?

And if the soaps fail to do anything worthwhile, the manufacturers will just have to remove the "kills bacteria" from the labels in order to continue selling them.

And everyone (including those who currently use anit-bacterial soaps) will continue to use the same brand they always have, because they're used to it.

Re:This is silly (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#45708323)

And if the soaps fail to do anything worthwhile, the manufacturers will just have to remove the "kills bacteria" from the labels in order to continue selling them.

Nope. In the situation you describe, they won't have to remove "kills bacteria" from the labels. Any soap will do that, assuming you *use* it properly with water and rinse. (A truth I've been trying to communicate to a group of Boy Scouts every time I'm watching them cook on camp outs.)

Re:This is silly (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#45708959)

Normal soaps do not work by killing bacteria, they work by helping dislodge them from the skin surface, thus allowing them to be washed away.

Will plain soap work? Maybe. (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 4 months ago | (#45707573)

Sure it will. But that's if you know how to wash your hands in the first place. Most just throw a dab of soap on them, rub and 3 seconds later rinse. Might wash some bacteria off but if it doesn't... it's still there. Not to mention under the fingernails where you'd need a brush to scrub.

Silly argument (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#45708715)

Anti-bacterial soaps are not antibiotics.

Saying that anti-bacterial soaps will produce drug-resistant bacteria is like saying that running humans through a meat grinder will produce humans that are resistant to being ground up by meat grinders.

Re:Silly argument (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#45708989)

There is a lot of ongoing research into whether the genetic changes that impart resistance to biocides like triclosan also have an effect on the efficiency of antibiotics in MRSA strains. So no, it's not a silly argument at all.
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