Do you use hand sanitizers on the daily? Although hand sanitizers kill all sorts of microbes that cause sickness, it's still not a good substitute to washing your hands the old-fashioned way. Now scientists believe using hand sanitizers may be detrimental to the health.
A new study links hand sanitizers to cancer. The study involved reviewing data from over 900 patients afflicted with thyroid cancer from 2010 to 2011 and comparing the results from 498 control subjects. Researchers found that occupational exposures – cancer patients involved in health care and hospitals – have a higher risk of cancer. These patients share one thing in common, they were exposed to chemicals commonly found in hand sanitizers.
A new study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine may give you pause for thought the next time you reach for your favorite hand sanitizer. We’ve long known that the chemicals present in these products aren’t the best thing to be applying to the skin, not to mention they’re exceptionally drying. But occasional use can’t be that harmful, right? As it turns out, using chemical hand sanitizers can actually triple the risk of developing thyroid cancer.
The research team reviewed data from over 900 patients — 462 adults with thyroid cancer in 2010 and 2011 and compared them with 498 control subjects. They subsequently calculated exposure to the biocide chemicals based on both reported use and detailed information regarding occupational exposures. Those who work in medicine or cleaning — like healthcare providers in hospitals, home health assistants and professional building cleaners — were found to have the highest biocide exposure.
Although not involved with the study, Laura Koniver MD summarizes the study’s results as follows:
- Women with any occupational exposure at all were 48% more likely to develop thyroid cancer.
- Men with any occupational exposure at all were 300% more likely to develop thyroid cancer — 3 X the normal rates of thyroid cancers!
- The over all risk of using biocides increased thyroid cancer rates by 65%
- For those with highest cumulative exposures (associated with jobs that require hand sanitizer use such as health professions) the risk of thyroid cancer more than doubled.
- These biocide chemicals are known hormone disrupters… for example, Triclosan has been shown to interrupt and decrease the levels of several different thyroid hormones (necessary for growth and metabolism.)
Needless to say, it’s best to give these chemical-based sanitizers a wide berth if we would like to stay healthy. Not only are they potent hormone disruptors, but they’re already causing the creation of superbugs, where the bacteria and viruses are becoming resistant to these wipes, sprays and antibacterial hand soaps. And since many of these products contain alcohol, which dries and cracks the skin, they actually make you more exposed to the pathogens around you. Biocide chemicals can also put you at risk for hypothyroidism, damage reproductive organs, and sperm quality, as well as disrupt the production of sex and thyroid hormones. But that’s not all.
Image courtesy of: rivercurtis