Los Angeles: A chemical commonly used in lipsticks, handwashes and other personal-care products may cause heart problems and muscle impairment, a new study has claimed. Scientists at the University of California have found that triclosan, which is used in hundreds of household products, can hinder the process by which muscles, including the heart, receive signals from the brain.

In tests on mice, they noted a 'dramatic' 25 per cent reduction in heart function within 20 minutes of exposure, and warned there is 'strong evidence' it could affect human health.

However regulators and other experts insist triclosan levels in products are safe, and that the doses injected into the mice were higher than those to which humans would ever be exposed.

Previous studies have found that triclosan may have links to thyroid and fertility problems, this is the first time its effects have been tested on muscles.

Scientists had thought that the chemical – which was devised to prevent bacterial infections in hospitals – was metabolised quickly by the body without harmful effects.

However, the researchers at the University of California say it may remain active and be transported to organs, causing damage.

"Triclosan is found in virtually everyone's home and is pervasive in the environment," said Professor Isaac Pessah, who led the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"These findings provide strong evidence that it is of concern to both human and environmental health,"
"For someone who is healthy a 10 per cent drop in heart function may not have an effect, but if you have heart disease it could make a big difference," Pessah said.

 His team injected a group of mice with triclosan. They saw a 'significantly reduced' function in the heart's left ventricle within 20 minutes.

"The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic," said Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis and a study co-author.


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