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Commonly Used Antimicrobial Triclosan Linked to Liver Cancer

Update Date: Nov 19, 2014 10:17 AM EST

Triclosan, the chemical widely used for its antimicrobial effect has now been associated with liver cancer in mice, researchers claim.

Researchers at the University of California in San Diego found that mice exposed to tricolosan for six months caused liver cells to turn fibrotic which led to formation of tumors, Time reported. Damaged cells when exposed to cancer promoting agents like tobacco could easily turn cancerous.

"Triclosan's increasing detection in environmental samples and its increasingly broad use in consumer products may overcome its moderate benefit and present a very real risk of liver toxicity for people, as it does in mice, particularly when combined with other compounds with similar action," said Robert H Tukey professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Pharmacology, in a press release.

Researchers say Triclosan causes damage by disrupting activity of androstane receptor protein which detoxifies the body. To compensate for the disruption, liver cells multiply and form fibroids, consequentially magnifying the risk of tumor formation.

"Through a long-term feeding study, we found that TCS enhances hepatocyte proliferation, fibrogenesis, and oxidative stress, which, we believe, can be the driving force for developing advanced liver disease in mice. Indeed, TCS strongly enhances hepato-carcinogenesis after diethylnitrosamine initiation, accelerating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development," they wrote.

The research assumes significance owing to Triclosan's widespread use in soaps, toothpastes, hand soaps and other microbial solutions. Given its use, studies have shown its presence in breast milk and urine of humans.

"We could reduce most human and environmental exposures by eliminating uses of triclosan that are high volume, but of low benefit, such as inclusion in liquid hand soaps. Yet we could also for now retain uses shown to have health value-as in toothpaste, where the amount used is small," said Bruce D Hammock also from UC San Diego.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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