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The compound's harmful effects are likely due to disruptions in the gut microbiome. Exposure to the bacteria-killing chemical, Yang said, lowered populations of Bifidobacterium, or so-called "good bacteria,"
Because triclosan is considered one of the most commonly used antimicrobials, found in more than 2,000 consumer products, Yang said the study suggests health officials “must reassess regulation of triclosan for its effect on human health” as it’s impossible to avoid contact with the chemical.
More research is also needed to understand the impact of the chemical on humans and other species.
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Inflammatory bowel disease affects about 3 million Americans, many of whom are diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Colorectal cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, is also the second leading cancer killer in the country.
Read the full Amherst study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, at stm.sciencemag.org.