Colgate Total includes 0.3% Triclosan. The company says that the FDA, ADA, and others have confirmed that this is safe. Other sources claim that it is not safe, citing risks of cancer, endocrine disruption, and increased antimicrobial resistance.

I'd like to know if use of a Triclosan toothpaste increases one's likelihood of the above mentioned health problems, both:

  • if swallowed in small quantities (such as the amount used in brushing)
  • if not swallowed
  • 2
    Note that this is my first question here and I'm happy to take suggestions on how to improve it. – Nathaniel Oct 5 '15 at 17:42
  • Those warnings are, as far as I know, required for the inclusion of fluoride. Non-fluoride toothpastes (which do exist, but are often hard to find) don't have those warnings. So I don't think that information is especially relevant to this question. – Flimzy Oct 5 '15 at 18:05
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    What do you mean by "safe for use"? Also, you should read through the faq for new Skeptics SE users. In particular questions should be about notable claims, so this question is likely to be closed unless you can provide links demonstrating its notability. – Rob Watts Oct 5 '15 at 18:19
  • @Nathaniel It's not too broad to include multiple specific ways that they are claimed to be unsafe, but just saying "unsafe" without any clarification does seem too broad. – Rob Watts Oct 5 '15 at 18:51
  • It's in Arm and Hammer "Natural" deodorant too, BTW. And they got sued over it. topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/… – Peter Turner Oct 5 '15 at 19:09

Triclosan is not currently known to be harmful to humans and is beneficial as an ingredient in toothpaste.

According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA):

Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans.

They do note however, that testing on animals have shown hormone alteration1 3. Regarding toothpaste specifically, the FDA concluded that it, as an ingredient, helped prevent gingivitis2. In that regard, it can be currently concluded that it is indeed safe and beneficial for use as an ingredient in toothpaste.

Additional Information:

Mayo Clinic has a statement from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.:

There currently isn't enough evidence to recommend avoiding use of products that contain triclosan — an ingredient added to certain soaps, cosmetics, clothing, cookware, furniture and toys to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. Recent studies, however, have raised questions about whether triclosan might be hazardous to human health.

1Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

2For some consumer products, there is clear evidence that triclosan provides a benefit. In 1997, FDA reviewed extensive effectiveness data on triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste. The evidence showed that triclosan in this product was effective in preventing gingivitis.

3Triclosan [5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol; TCS] is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that has become one of the most common additives used in consumer products. As a result, TCS has significantly affected the environment and has been frequently detected in human body fluids. Through a long-term feeding study, we found that TCS enhances hepatocyte proliferation, fibrogenesis, and oxidative stress, which, we believe, can be the driving force for developing advanced liver disease in mice. Indeed, TCS strongly enhances hepatocarcinogenesis after diethylnitrosamine initiation, accelerating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. Although animal studies require higher chemical concentrations than predicted for human exposure, this study demonstrates that TCS acts as a HCC tumor promoter and that the mechanism of TCS-induced mouse liver pathology may be relevant to humans.

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