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Soap Dish: Your Doctor's Cleanliness Could Be His Downfall 

Tuesday, Sep 30 2014
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Most patients would probably agree it's for the best if their doctor washes her hands before seeing them. A lot.

But a study out of UC San Francisco indicates this may not work out so well for your doc.

Hospital workers' frenetic hand-washing could expose them to unsafe levels of triclosan, a synthetic antifungal and antibacterial agent found in soaps and thousands of other products including skin cream and toothpaste. A bevy of recent studies have linked it to potential fetal development problems, staph infections, and other unpleasantries.

The UCSF study, published in the August issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, involved a body of 38 doctors and nurses at "Hospital 1" and "Hospital 2": Workers at the former used soap with triclosan and workers at the latter did not.

Urine samples from Hospital 1 staffers, unsurprisingly, contained 70 percent more triclosan. Even workers who brushed their teeth with triclosan toothpaste didn't have as much of the substance in their systems as the hand-washers.

The Food and Drug Administration claims there is "insufficient evidence" to weigh on triclosan's efficaciousness and its safety. With that in mind, the UCSF doctors who penned the recent study say the FDA should start gathering more evidence — and you could do worse than using conventional soap, toothpaste, or anything else.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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