NEW YORK (CNN) – Exposure to a chemical commonly used to reduce bacterial contamination of cosmetics, toothpaste and products such as toys and clothing can be associated with an unintentional risk – osteoporosis. This emerges from a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on Tuesday.
The study looked at data from 1,848 women between 2005 and 2010 and found that women with higher triclosan levels in the urine later developed osteoporosis more often in their lives. Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease in which a person loses bone mineral density. When the bones are weakened, there is an increased risk of fractures, back pain and loss of height.
This is the first study of its kind to uncover this relationship, researchers say.
The researchers believe that there is a negative association between bone health and triclosan in part because it impairs thyroid function. Previous studies have shown that imbalance of the thyroid gland can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
Triclosan is an ingredient that has been used in some hand sanitizers, toothpastes and cosmetics as well as in kitchenware, toys, furniture and medicines clothing. Products have been added to prevent bacterial contamination.
Some previous studies on toothpaste seem to indicate that it is safe, but said that further research is needed.
Some studies in animals showed that long-term exposure to the chemical increased the risk of the animal for skin cancer. Another study suggested that exposure to triclosan may interfere with some infant reproductive and developmental processes. Another study suggested that it is related to the spread of antibiotic resistance.
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