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Meet – “That Guy”

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 3:55pm
Mike Auerbach, Editor in Chief

Yep- I’m that guy.

I’m the guy who zags when everybody zigs.

I’m the guy who looks down his nose at every new health trend and scoffs at those who embark on low-carb diets or overindulging on pomegranates or chugging wheat grass juice or slathering their hands with anti-bacterial soap, or downing multi-vitamins and supplements like Halloween candy.

Yep – I’m that guy.

Yep – I’m that guy who is not afraid to use a public restroom, or pick-up someone else’s garbage that has inadvertently ended up in my front yard. I’m even the guy who once ate a few French fries that had fallen into the muddy grass at a soccer game – much to the wide-eyed amazement of a few parents and several kids. Ahhh – the price we have to pay for fame.

But, let’s get back to one particular trend. This obsession with anti-bacterial soap. I’ve never understood it. The stuff is everywhere: inside bathrooms, outside of bathrooms, at the entrances to grocery stores. From where I’m sitting I can see a bottle sitting on a filing cabinet. Alphabetizing reports? Here have a squirt of soap!

The marketers of these products have done an excellent job of scaring the bejeebers out of the general population with claims that their products kill 99.9% of this germ or that germ or even the flu virus. Kills Staphylococcus? I don’t know what it is – but it sounds deadly – if this stuff kills it – I better use two squirts!

Anyway, it was with a slight chuckle and the words “I told you so” running through my head that I read the FDA’s recent Consumer Update on antibacterial soap. In that update the FDA stated, “… there currently is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water,” this was according to Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA.

In addition, the update continues, “antibacterial soap products contain chemical ingredients, such as triclosan and triclocarban, which may carry unnecessary risks given that their benefits are unproven.”

"New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits," Rogers says. In addition, “There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.”

So it appears that my plain old hand-washing routine and other slovenly habits might actually be keeping me healthy! Vindication at last.

But, if you are one to use anti-bacterial soaps regularly – don’t worry – I won’t be offended if we meet sometime and you don’t want to shake my hand.

 

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