Colgate’s Total Toothpaste Still Under Scrutiny for Cancer Link

Colgate Palmolive’s Total Toothpaste, which contains the antibacterial agent triclosan, a chemical linked to cancer, is facing new questions over how the product was FDA approved in 1997. Colgate Palmolive uses triclosan in Colgate Total to prevent gum disease, however, triclosan has been linked to cancer-cell growth and disrupted development in animals. Regulators have been reviewing whether it is safe to put this chemical in soap, cutting boards and toys. Consumer companies are phasing it out. In May, Minnesota voted to ban this chemical in many products.

Colgate says that Total is safe and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the product in 1997 as an over-the-counter drug. But, as we previously posted on our blog, a Freedom of Information Act request from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) revealed that the toxicology reports used to justify the chemical’s use were compiled by scientists affiliated with their company, as reported by Bloomberg News.

Although the FDA withheld from view the 35-page application from Colgate for its Total application summarizing toxicology studies on triclosan, they did release these pages earlier this year in response to a lawsuit over a Freedom of Information Act request. The FDA posted the pages on its website following inquiries from Bloomberg News. Seventeen years after its approval.

It seems that the FDA might not have done enough due diligence before approving the use of triclosan in the toothpaste according to three scientists who reviewed the documents at Bloomberg’s request. These scientists have raised valid questions regarding the FDA’s approval process. Considering the new research, should its approval remain? Perhaps an independent third-party researcher should determine the safety and effectiveness of this product?

Within the 35 pages of the application were studies showing fetal bone malformations in mice and rats. Colgate said the findings weren’t relevant. With what we know in today’s science, these malformations look more like a signal that triclosan is disrupting the endocrine system and throwing off hormonal functioning, according to the three scientists.

The FDA actually had concerns that triclosan could increase the risk of cancer, but Colgate scientists said not to worry, that the risk only applied to those who consumed or absorbed the chemical in large doses, the Daily Mail reported. How much is too much??

Why didn’t the FDA publicize their concerns? Why didn’t they demand further testing? After all, the FDA is a government agency whose purpose is to protect the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness and security of food, drugs and cosmetics. If they had knowledge or even a doubt of potential danger in products that are on the shelves across our nation, they have a duty to report this information to the public.

On its website, the NRDC tells consumers to “urge the FDA to pull products containing triclosan…from store shelves in order to protect public health.”

Since the story’s publication, consumers have e-mailed Bloomberg News to ask if the toothpaste is safe and have taken to social media. Colgate, meanwhile, has fired off almost 50 Twitter posts so far in response to questions about and criticism of Total.

Activists are pressuring Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers to eliminate products with triclosan, which also is used in hand soaps. Next month, Wal-Mart and Target Corp. will meet with suppliers in Chicago at the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit, where they’ll evaluate the environmental and social impact of the products.

A Manhattan dentist who has been practicing for 30 years said he stopped recommending Colgate Total to his patients in 2011 when he heard that triclosan, also used in temporary cement for crowns, was coming under scrutiny in Europe. “Some of the toothpastes had removed it, and one company was staunchly defending it,” Dr. Elliot Davis said, referring to Colgate. “I started to avoid products that had it.”

Will you continue using Colgate Total? Would you feel comfortable having your children use this product? Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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