In 1997 when Colgate Total toothpaste was being evaluated by the FDA, Colgate-Palmolive deemed evidence that the triclosan in the product can cause developmental issues and cancer to be irrelevant because the testing was done on animals. The product with the ingredient in it was eventually approved.
Now, there’s more evidence that triclosan can cause cancer and other problems, but the product is still being sold. For an alternative without triclosan, read our article on our preferred toothpaste recipe.
Pages from the original 35-page toxicology report indicate that mice and rats that were given the chemical had fetal bone malformation issues, but this information was not considered by the company to be relevant because it involved animal research rather than humans. The company says the product has now been on the market for nearly 20 years and that at least 80 clinical trials have proven the product safe.
According to Colgate, 19,000 people have been in trials proving the safety of triclosan, an antibacterial agent used in hand soaps and in Colgate Total toothpaste.
Colgate has no immediate plans to reformulate the toothpaste. The company points out that there was a carcinogenicity concern before the approval of the product, but that was discounted prior to the 1997 approval.
The FDA contends that triclosan is not “known” to be harmful to humans but that animal research indicates that more study may be needed. The agency will not, however, revisit Total’s approval unless there is cause.
Minnesota banned the chemical in May 2014. Both Johnson and Johnson and Avon have announced that they will no longer use the chemical in their products.
But what about your family? Will you continue to use a product linked to cancer or make another choice? You can always make your own homemade toothpaste or buy a safer natural brand. The choice is up to you, but the right decision seems clear.