Colgate's Total Toothpaste: The Danger You May Not Know About

Could your toothpaste be harming you? Perhaps, if it contains triclosan, a chemical linked to cancer and a host of other health issues, including fertility problems.

Colgate's popular toothpaste, Total, which I happen to use, is now the only U.S.-made toothpaste that still contains the controversial triclosan, according to a report this week by Bloomberg News.

Colgate says Total is safe and cites the FDA's approval of the cavity-fighter. But the Bloomberg article says much of the information used to establish the toothpaste as safe for use in 1997 wasn't "black and white" or available to the public.


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Information regarding triclosan in Total was only released earlier this year in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Triclosan is often used as an antibacterial ingredient. Other products such as soaps, antibacterials, deodorants, first-aid lotions and gels, and even clothes and pet dispensers also list the chemical among their ingredients. 

Given the now-available documents about triclosan, Bloomberg had three scientists review the findings.

Triclosan was reportedly found to cause fetal bone malformations in mice and rats. At the time, Colgate said the findings weren't relevant. But the scientists Bloomberg used say this probably means the chemical "is disrupting the endocrine system and throwing off hormonal functioning."

Endocrine-related diseases include breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancers, all of which have surged in the past 50 years. Endocrine disruption can also lead to preterm and low birthweight babies.

Bloomberg points out that the FDA pages do not deem Total to be harmful. But Colgate did remove triclosan from its Softsoap liquid hand soap and Palmolive antibacterial dish liquid.

Still, Colgate says it has no plans to remove triclosan from Total, according to Bloomberg.

The dangers of triclosan have been well-documented (just Google it and see all the websites dedicated to outing products that contain it or used to), but I confess it's news to me.

Even if I change toothpastes, I'm sure something else will get me sooner or later. From the plastic bin I'm eating my salad out of to whatever chemicals were sprayed on the lettuce leaves before they reached my mouth, doesn't it feel like everything could be deadly these days?

Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure I'll be switching toothpastes before too much longer.

Do you avoid triclosan or haven't you heard about it much before?


Image via Kenneth Lu/Flickr

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