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Ingredient found in Colgate Toothpaste linked to Cancer

Update Date: Aug 13, 2014 10:31 AM EDT

Colgate Total toothpaste can be found in the bathrooms of many American households. The widely popular toothpaste manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive Co., however, is under scrutiny for using the ingredient, Triclosan, which has been tied to increasing one's risk of cancer cell growth in mice models. Even though some consumer companies have slowly phased out the ingredient, Colgate-Palmolive Co. stated that its Total toothpaste is safe to use.

The company reassured consumers of the toothpaste's safety by citing the toothpaste's approval process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. In the 35-page application, which was released earlier this year, Colgate had reported finding fetal bone malformations in the mice models. However, the company concluded that these abnormalities were not relevant. The application process revealed how much the FDA had relied on the company's data and conclusions when deciding on whether or not the product was safe enough to be approved.

The release of these documents and recent studies tying excessive amounts of Triclosan to reduced fertility and a higher risk of cancer have increased awareness about the potential dangers of using Triclosan. Despite the potential risks involved, studies have only been conducted in rodents. The effects on humans might not be as drastic or there might not be any adverse health effects at all.

"The human health effects from exposure to low environmental levels of triclosan are unknown ... More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to triclosan," according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet reported in the Business Insider.

Thomas DiPiazza, a Colgate spokesman, told Bloomberg, "In the nearly 18 years that Colgate Total has been on the market in the U.S., there has been no signal of a safety issue from adverse-event reports."

The FDA reportedly will issue a ruling on the use of this ingredient in 2016.

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