Women exposed to a chemical used in some toothpastes, soaps and antibacterial products are at higher risk of osteoporosis, a study suggests.

Researchers found that women with higher levels of triclosan, which has been previously linked to bowel cancer and antibiotic resistance, were more likely to have the bone disease.

Triclosan is added to some antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics.

It can also be found in clothing, kitchenware, furniture and toys.


In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned triclosan from antiseptic and antibacterial hand rubs and hand washes. In the UK no such ban exists.

In 2017, in New Zealand calls were made to ban the toxic chemical used in soap and toothpaste but this was not pursued.

READ MORE: • Calls for toxic chemicals used in soap and toothpaste to be banned

However manfacturer Unilever has phased out triclosan from its entire range of products in response to consumer demand, although it says it is confident the chemical is safe.

Meanwhile the new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, analysed data from 1848 women and found that those with higher levels of triclosan in their urine were more likely to have bone issues.

Author Yingjun Li, from Hangzhou Medical College School of Public Health in Hangzhou, China, said: "Laboratory studies have demonstrated that triclosan may have potential to adversely affect the bone mineral density in cell lines or in animals.

"However, little is known about the relationship between triclosan and human bone health.

"As far as we know, this is the first epidemiological study to investigate the association between triclosan exposure with bone mineral density and osteoporosis in a nationally representative sample from US adult women."