A chemical that has been proven to cause cancer cell growth was found in one of the United States’ leading toothpaste brands.
Colgate Total contains triclosan, which has been linked to cancer and fertility and developmental issues in animals, reports Business Insider. While many companies are phasing out out the chemical and states like Minnesota even voted to ban it, the corporation insists that Colgate Total is "safe."
Colgate’s officials have pointed to its Food and Drug Administration approval, which it received in 1997. But a new report that has surfaced, thanks to a Bloomberg News investigation, found the FDA relied heavily on company-backed research. Questions have now popped up about whether the agency covered all of its bases with regards to triclosan and if its usage in the product should be reassessed.
Colgate-Palmolive reportedly removed this chemical from its soap products. But Thomas DiPiazza, a spokesperson for Colgate, claims there isn’t enough evidence to justify going back to the drawing board with its toothpaste formula. “In the nearly 18 years that Colgate Total has been on the market in the U.S., there has been no signal of a safety issue from adverse-event reports,” DiPiazza said.
A Freedom of Information Act request from the Natural Resources Defense Council led to the FDA releasing documents about its approval of Colgate Total. Officials from the NRDC say they want to be sure the benefits of the toothpaste - which Colgate vows “reduces plague, gingival inflammation and gingival bleeding” - outweigh the potential negative affects of triclosan.
“It’s also used in other products that you wouldn’t normally think of – cutting boards and shoes and shopping carts and bath tubs,” said Mae Wu, an attorney for NRDC. “It’s hard to avoid it.”
The council has asked the FDA to pull all products containing the chemical. The agency will decide in 2016 whether additional regulations are required.