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FDA: ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAPS MAY NOT CURB BACTERIA

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 08:26 Published in Health & Fitness

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After more than 40 years of study, the U.S. government says it has found no evidence that common anti-bacterial soaps prevent the spread of germs, and regulators want the makers of Dawn, Dial and other household staples to prove that their products do not pose health risks to consumers.

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that they are revisiting the safety of triclosan and other sanitizing agents found in soap in countless kitchens and bathrooms. Recent studies suggest triclosan and similar substances can interfere with hormone levels in lab animals and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

The government's preliminary ruling lends new support to outside researchers who have long argued that the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.

"The FDA is finally making a judgment call here and asking industry to show us that these products are better than soap and water, and the data don't substantiate that," said Stuart Levy of the Tufts University School of Medicine.

While the rule only applies to personal hygiene products, it has implications for a broader $1 billion industry that includes thousands of anti-bacterial products, including kitchen knives, toys, pacifiers and toothpaste. Over the last 20 years, companies have added triclosan and other cleaners to thousands of household products, touting their germ-killing benefits.

Under a proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that anti-bacterial soaps are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. Products that are not shown to be safe and effective by late 2016 would have to be reformulated, relabeled or removed from the market.

"I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an anti-bacterial soap product, they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families," said Sandra Kweder, deputy director in the FDA's drug center. "But we don't have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water."

A spokesman for the cleaning product industry said the FDA already has "a wealth of data" showing the benefits of anti-bacterial products.

Monday's action affects virtually all soap products labeled anti-bacterial, including popular brands from CVS, Bath and Body Works, Ajax and many other companies.

The rule does not apply to hand sanitizers, most of which use alcohol rather than anti-bacterial chemicals.

An FDA analysis estimates it will cost companies $112.2 million to $368.8 million to comply with the new regulations, including reformulating some products and removing marketing claims from others.

The agency will accept data from companies and researchers for one year before beginning to finalize the rule.

The proposal comes more than four decades after the FDA began evaluating triclosan, triclocarban and similar ingredients. The government only agreed to publish its findings after a three-year legal battle with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that accused the FDA of delaying action on potentially dangerous chemicals.

Triclosan is found in an estimated 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps and body washes in the U.S. More than 93 percent of anti-bacterial bar soaps also contain triclosan or triclocarban, according to the FDA.

Some consumers said the FDA ruling would have little effect on their buying habits, since they already avoid anti-bacterial soaps and scrubs.

"The regular soap works fine for me. And if I was to think about it, I would guess that those anti-bacterial soaps probably have more toxins," said Marco Cegarra, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Diane McLean, of Washington, D.C., thought the soaps always "seemed like a bad idea" because of concerns about creating drug-resistant bacteria.

The FDA was asked to investigate anti-bacterial chemicals in 1972 as part of a law designed to set guidelines for dozens of common cleaners. But the guidelines got bogged down in years of regulatory delays and missed deadlines. The agency published a preliminary draft of its findings in 1978, but never finalized the results until Monday.

Most of the research surrounding triclosan's safety involves laboratory animals, including studies in rats that showed changes in testosterone, estrogen and thyroid hormones. Some scientists worry that such changes in humans could raise the risk of infertility, early puberty and even cancer.

FDA scientists stressed Monday that such studies are not necessarily applicable to humans, but the agency is reviewing their implications.

On a conference call with journalists, Kweder noted that the government's National Toxicology Program is already studying whether daily skin exposure to hormone-altering chemicals could lead to cancer.

Other experts are concerned that routine use of anti-bacterial chemicals such as triclosan contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant germs, or superbugs, that render antibiotics ineffective.

In March 2010, the European Union banned the chemical from all products that come into contact with food, such as containers and silverware.

A spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute, a soap cleaning product trade organization, said the group will submit new data to regulators, including studies showing that company products do not lead to antibiotic resistance.

"We are perplexed that the agency would suggest there is no evidence that anti-bacterial soaps are beneficial," said Brian Sansoni. "Our industry sent the FDA in-depth data in 2008 showing that anti-bacterial soaps are more effective in killing germs when compared with non-anti-bacterial soaps."

The group represents manufacturers including Henkel, Unilever and Dow Chemical Co.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

NEED FOR DEMENTIA CAREGIVERS GROWS AS BOOMERS AGE

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 08:25 Published in Health & Fitness

ELMHURST, Ill. (AP) -- World leaders set a goal for a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025 at the recent G8 summit in London.

But for now, caregiving is among the most pressing issue for people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

The Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association says there are an estimated 15 million caregivers in the United States. And as baby boomers age and live longer, those numbers are expected to grow.

Katie Halloran, a 29-year-old teacher from suburban Chicago, is one of those caregivers.

She races home each day to her 62-year-old father Mike, who has Alzheimer's, to take over for his paid caregiver. As his condition worsens, she and her siblings are considering full-time care - a move Katie dreads.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Senators edge Blues 3-2 in OT

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 00:05 Published in Sports
 
OTTAWA (AP) -- Cody Ceci scored his first NHL goal in overtime and the Ottawa Senators beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Monday.
 
Ceci recovered a clearing attempt by the Blues and sent a wrist shot toward the St. Louis goal that beat Brian Elliott at 3:59 of the extra period.
 
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Bobby Ryan scored in regulation for the Senators, who picked up points for the fifth time in their past six games.
 
Chris Stewart had both goals for the Blues and both came late in the second period and both were set up by Derek Roy.
 
Roy also took a hooking penalty in overtime, but the Senators were unable to take advantage.
 
Ryan scored a highlight-reel goal on a pass from Kyle Turris, who put the puck on Ryan's tape from 40 feet away to right in front of the St. Louis goal.
 
Ryan cut in front, went to his backhand and beat Elliott to tie the game 2-2. It was also the only goal of the third period and sent the game to overtime.
 
Goaltending played a key role throughout the game as Elliott dueled with Ottawa's Robin Lehner. Each made some big saves, especially through the first two periods.
 
Pageau beat Elliott early in the game as he found the back of the net over the Blues goalie's glove. Ryan set up the play from behind the net, finding Pageau in the slot.
 
That goal at 3:57 of the first stood up as the only goal until just 3:10 remained in the second when Stewart scored his first of two goals.
 
Roy made a long breakout pass to Stewart, who slid a backhand along the ice and through the legs of Lehner at the end of a breakaway.
 
With just 13 seconds remaining in the second, Brendan Morrow's miscue led to Stewart's go-ahead goal.
 
While behind the net, Morrow fanned on a pass attempt out front but the puck went directly to Roy at the side of the goal. Roy's no-look backhand pass was met with no hesitation as Stewart delivered a one-timer to the far side past Lehner for a 2-1 St. Louis lead.
 
Notes: Coming into Monday's game the Senators were 1-9-2 against the Western Conference while the Blues were 11-2-0 against the Eastern Conference. ... Scratches for the Senators were defensemen Marc Methot and Eric Gryba along with forward Matt Kassian. The Blues sat forwards Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka plus defenseman Ian Cole. ... Senators coach Paul MacLean was drafted by the Blues in 1978. He was traded to Winnipeg before returning to St. Louis to play his final two seasons. MacLean played 115 games for the Blues and had 40 goals and 44 assists.

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