Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sanitation is Killing Us

Ever since antibacterial soaps and cleansers appeared on the market, I have resisted buying or using them. I have learned that bacteria reproduce quickly, often, and in great numbers. In as little as 10 generations, a bacteria can evolve to resist it's former anti-bacterial killer through adaptive mutation that appear more directed than random as Darwin's theory would dictate. The more we wash ourselves and our environs with anti-bacterial products, bacteria in greater numbers survive and reproduce.

The resultant generations are increasingly resistant and ultimately totally immune to the anti-bacterial products. Bacteria are alive and imbued with the biological imperative to survive as a species by any means necessary. In one New York hospital in the 1990's, harmful bacteria was actually found living and thriving in the very soap doctors and nurses were using to sanitize their hands.

And now it's come to this as reported by the AP and FOXNews June 9 --

The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers Monday not to use skin products made by Clarcon because of high levels of disease-causing bacteria found during a recent inspection.

Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. of Roy, Utah, issued a voluntary recall of some skin sanitizers and skin protectants marketed under several different brand names, the FDA said in a statement.

Consumers should not use any Clarcon products and should throw them away, the FDA said.

Analyses of several samples of over-the-counter topical antimicrobial skin sanitizer and skin protectant products revealed high levels of various bacteria, including some associated with unsanitary conditions, according to the agency. Some of these bacteria can cause opportunistic infections of the skin and underlying tissues and could result in medical or surgical attention as well as permanent damage.
In 1994, research "showed that genetic recombination and resultant adaptive mutation occurred in the absence of reproduction. In other words, bacteria altered themselves not just through a process random, error-prone reproduction, that eventually yielded a surviving strain -- the classic Darwinian view. In addition, they changed themselves, in some concerted manner, without reproducing." (The Coming Plague, Laurie Garrett)

The best method remains as our mothers taught us: thoroughly wash you hands with soap and rinse with warm water. The soap does not kill the bacteria, but emulsifies the skin oils in which the bacteria live and the warm water washes the bacteria down the drain leaving little need for bacteria to adapt.

And stay away from the anti-bacterial products; they only make matters worse.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Anonymous said...

Darn it Indi, just reading that made me start to itch all over. Don

Always On Watch said...

My grandmother used to make her own lye soap. And guess what? When we were faithful about washing our hands, nobody got sick.

In my grandmother's case, she used the soap faithfully during the 1918 flu, when she was tending her brothers who were sick. You guessed it: my grandmother never got the flu!

Indigo Red said...

Sorry 'bout that, Don!

Not surprised, Always. We know that polio is a horrid disease, but not until the slums of our large cities were cleaned-up at the turn of the 20th century. Polio was in the dirt and was and most kids got a mild case and then were immune. HIV/AIDS followed closely on the heals of smallpox eradication. Turns out HIV is related to smallpox and most probably those who survived smallpox had immunity to HIV.

Washing one's hands is still the best medicine.

dcat said...

I agree Indigo!

I have my own little soap bottle at work from glycerin/soap mixed with water.

anti-bacterial products are a bad thing!

Indigo Red said...

Thanks for the endorsement, dcat! Coming from a successful and honored person in the healthcare field it's an important stand.

Anonymous said...

o/t Indi, are you engaged in an active job search or is your lay off temporary? I am at the mercy of the economic times. I work contract to contract, putting in major gas pipelines. There is definitely a need for them but the gas companies are holding their money close to the vest right now. Obama's cap and trade ideas have all the energy companies worried. Don

Tom said...

I seem to remember a George Carlin rant on the same topic - people are getting sicker because they are not exercising their immune systems by using the anti-bacterial stuff.

Indigo Red said...

Yes, indeed he did, Tom. I've made a post of it. Thanks.