BYU Professor: ‘Super Bugs’ Not Created by Using Antibacterial Soap

(U-WIRE) PROVO, Utah – The classic clean freak can sigh with relief, thanks to a recent study conducted by a Brigham Young University professor.According to the study conducted by Eugene C. Cole, a professor of health science, antibacterial soaps used in the home or on the skin are not contributing to antibiotic resistance in household bacteria. Cole, along with nine other researchers, verified that antibacterial cleaning products containing enough active ingredients kill germs and actually contribute to healthy living environments in the home. Cole is the lead author of the study, featured in the Sept. 24 “Journal of Applied Microbiology.” “Antibiotic resistance continues to be a worldwide health concern,” Cole said in a news release. “But our study indicates that there isn’t a relationship between this problem and antibacterial cleaning products used in the home.” Experts have cautioned against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also called “super bugs.” These bacteria develop resistance over time because of genetic mechanisms and selective pressures, Cole said. The resistant bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, adjust to antibiotics until they are unaffected by medical treatments. The most common bacteria that have shown an increased resistance are the Staphylococcus species. The inappropriate use of antibiotics has been associated with the rise in antibiotic resistance, said Kurt Stevenson, professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine and an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist studying the spread of antibiotic resistance. “The rise has caused some scientists to speculate that the widespread home use of disinfectants and antibacterial-containing antiseptics may also contribute to the problem,” Stevenson said in a news release. However, Stevenson said the study by Cole and his associates indicates no link between home use of these products and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the home, reducing scientists’ concerns. Cole said in addition to using antibacterial cleaning products, a few changes in hand washing and surface cleaning can limit the amount of bacteria. “Consumers don’t spend enough time lathering and scrubbing the hands for even a reasonable time, such as 20 or 30 seconds at a minimum,” Cole said. “The extra time will allow for the active ingredient to adhere to the skin and a leave a protective residual.” Both antibacterial and non-antibacterial liquid soaps have the same cleaning ability, he said, but the antibacterial soap has an added ingredient to help inactivate and suppress growth of bacteria that remain on the skin. Cole also recommended routine cleaning, especially in areas regularly contaminated, such as kitchen counters or bathroom toilets and sinks.Further, Cole advised consumers to look for an EPA registration number on the label of antibacterial cleaning products. The registration number ensures the product was determined to be effective against one or more bacteria, fungi or virus. Cole also said consumers should use brand-name products from long-standing reputable manufacturers and follow the label directions. The study, which lasted two years, consisted of researchers sampling from hands, mouths and kitchen and bathroom surfaces of 60 participating families. These families, which lived in the United States and the United Kingdom, were identified as non-users or users of the antibacterial household and personal hygiene products. More than 1,200 isolates were tested for resistance to commonly used antibiotics. From those tested, representative antibiotic-resistant and susceptible bacteria were tested about four common antibacterial ingredients used in household cleaning and personal hygiene products.