What dangers are lurking in your medicine cabinet?
Your cabinets are full of health products that can be hiding a dark secret: They pose a serious threat if you’re not careful.
Antibacterial soap seems like the obvious choice to destroy bacteria on your hands but the caveat is it can create antibiotic-resistant organisms. The ingredient, triclosan, is used to prevent bacterial contamination. It’s in a lot of stuff we use every day – like soap, clothing, furniture, toys and kitchenware. That adds up to a lot of exposure and concerns. “Some data shows this resistance may have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments, such as antibiotics,” says Steven Bentley, MD, a retired emergency physician. The FDA recommends frequent hand-washing with soap and water instead. “To be clear, antibacterial soaps can only be justified when a person has known prolonged exposure to such pathogens as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph) or other known pathogens,” says Dr. Bentley.
Most of the over-the-counter vitamins we take are fine when we follow the directions, but beefing up the dosage to fend off an illness can be dangerous. “Certain types of vitamins are stored in the fat cells of the body and can actually be a problem with overdosing,” cautions Dr. Bentley. “Most vitamins are excreted in the urine, but A, D, E and K are stored in the fat of the body.” For instance, vitamin D received a lot of attention a few years back because if you were in a bad mood, sleepy, and achy, vitamin D was the cure. But it’s not a good idea to up the dosage to improve the benefits. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, taking 50,000 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for several months has been shown to cause toxicity.