Colgate-Palmolive is standing by its use of the chemical triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste despite the Bloomberg News report of a study that links the chemical to cancer cell growth and developmental problems that showed up when testing triclosan on animals. The city of Hong Kong is among jurisdictions calling into question the importation of the potentially harmful toothpaste (read about a superior alternative toothpaste).
Colgate-Palmolive says there was a rigorous approval process that led to the approval of the particular toothpaste as an OTC drug. More than 80 clinical studies involving 19,000 participants were involved, the company said recently.
Plus, the product has been on the market in the United States for almost 18 years, the company said, and there haven’t been any adverse safety reports.
In Hong Kong, the government says it has not received reports of consumer issues related to any products that contain triclosan, but the city said it will continue to examine the latest research related to the chemical.
At the FDA, a spokesperson said that the issue of carcinogenicity was resolved by study in 1997. The study supports the position held by the FDA that there is no cancer risk for people who use products containing the chemical triclosan.
Consumers must make up their minds based on the best available facts and opinions they trust. But it’s difficult to understand the usage of a product that may be linked to a cancer concern or, in fact, the usage of any similar products when safe alternatives exist. These include chemical-free toothpastes that consumers can make themselves at home and relatively safe natural toothpastes available for purchase in stores.
It makes sense that a government would take action to protect its citizens and that another would take action to quell concerns. It also makes sense that a company would stand behind its products. But what is a consumer to do when there’s a product safety question?