93 Percent of Women Wash Their Hands Versus Only 77 Percent of Men

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Recently
by Joseph Mercola: The
‘Lazy’ Person’s Way to Slim Down

 

 
 

A recent
observational study found that 85 percent of adults washed their
hands in public restrooms — significantly less than the 96 percent
of adults who say they do.

Men do worse
than women — just 77 percent washed their hands, compared with
93 percent of women. However, both numbers are up — the last time
the survey was done, in 2007, only 66 percent of men washed, and
88 percent of women.

USA Today
reports:

u201CThe
study … involved discreetly observing 6,028 adults in public
restrooms in August to see whether they washed their hands. Hand
washing is important especially because … many respiratory and
gastrointestinal illnesses are transmitted primarily by hand contact.u201D

Source:
USA
Today September 13, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

Despite the
headline, my comment will not dwell on the differences between
sexes as I believe that to be a moot issue, but rather on hand
washing in general.

Overall,
the number of people who regularly wash their hands seem to have
risen in the past couple of years, and that's great news, because
washing your hands is your number one protection against the acquisition
and spread of infectious disease.

It has been
shown time and time again that washing your hands with soap and
water can kill germs that cause:

  • The common
    cold
  • Influenza
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis
    A
  • Acute
    gastroenteritis
  • Stomach
    infections such as salmonella, campylobacter and norovirus
  • Other
    contagious illnesses and surgical wound complications, including
    MRSA

Unfortunately,
despite the fact that simple hand
washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread
of infections
, it's still the most common violation in hospitals.

So, if you're
in a health care setting, whether a hospital, health care center
or nursing home, one way to proactively protect your health is
to ask nurses and doctors to wash their hands before they touch
you.

However,
there are two important factors I'd like to remind you of in this
article.

First, it's
important to use proper hand washing technique, and second, using
the right kind of soap.

Because contrary
to popular belief, you do NOT want to use antibacterial soaps
when washing your hands, and I'll discuss the many reasons why
below.

Proper Hand
Washing Technique

Good old-fashioned
hand washing is one of the oldest and most powerful antibacterial
treatments. Despite all our medical advancements and the introduction
of microbial soaps and harsh disinfectants, plain soap and water
still can't be beat.

To make sure
you're actually removing the germs when you wash your hands, follow
these guidelines:

  1. Use warm
    water
  2. Use a
    mild soap
  3. Work up
    a good lather, all the way up to your wrists, for at least 10
    or 15 seconds
  4. Make sure
    you cover all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists,
    between your fingers, and around and below your fingernails
  5. Rinse
    thoroughly under running water
  6. In public
    places, use a paper towel to open the door as a protection from
    germs that the handles may harbor

It's also
important to remember that your skin is actually your
primary defense against bacteria — not the soap. So resist the
urge to become obsessive about washing your hands.

If you wash
them too harshly, too frequently, you can actually extract many
of the protective oils in your skin, which can cause your skin
to crack and potentially even bleed.

This is completely
counterproductive and only invites trouble.

While it's
rare for a infectious agents on your skin to cause a problem (it
is typically only an issue when you transfer that to your nose,
mouth or an open wound like cracked skin), obsessive-compulsive
washing can actually increase your risk of getting sick by providing
an entryway for potentially dangerous pathogens through the cracked
skin. This is especially true in the winter or in dry environments
where humidity levels frequently drop below 10 percent.

So remember,
mild to moderate washing is all you need.

Why You
Do NOT Need Antibacterial Soap for Optimal Protection

This may
be difficult to swallow for some people because of highly successful
advertising, but you do not need anything other than plain, mild
soap.

A massive
market has been created based on the premise that germs must be
eradicated and that they're hard to kill. Advertising has therefore
convinced many that u201Ccleanu201D equals sterile. As a result, many
believe that regular soap just isn't good enough — they need antibacterial
soap. And antibacterial dish washing liquids, and disinfectant
sprays and gels…

Unfortunately,
none of these items are at all necessary. You're just paying for
the privilege of having been brainwashed…

But it is
important to understand that not only are antibacterial soaps
not good, they actually make the problem worse by creating more
resistant, hardy bacterial strains. Additionally, these chemicals
are toxic exposures that your body must address.

Studies
have shown
that people who use antibacterial soaps and cleansers
can often develop a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever,
vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms just as often as people
who use regular soaps.

Part of the
reason for this is because most of these symptoms are actually
caused by viruses, which antibacterial soaps can't kill. 

But even
for symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which may be caused by
bacteria, those who used regular soaps still had no greater risk
than those who used antibacterial products.

So, antibacterial
soaps are completely unnecessary for the purpose of washing
away bacteria.

But there's
more.

They can
actually cause far more harm than good by promoting the development
of resistant bacteria.

Yes, many
scientists now fear that the widespread use of antibacterial soaps
and various disinfecting products may be contributing to the rise
in “superbugs,” bacteria that are resistant to modern medicines.

The antimicrobial
triclosan, for example, is known to promote the growth of resistant
bacteria.

Even the
American
Medical Association (AMA) does not recommend antibacterial soaps

for this very reason.

Additionally,
many traditional medical circles now accept the hygiene hypothesis,
which centers on the idea that children NEED to be exposed to
some bacteria in early childhood in order to strengthen their
immune systems. Children who are not exposed to common bacteria
(which are wiped out by antibacterial soap), may become more
prone to allergies and asthma
as they grow.

But aside
from that, the active ingredient in many antibacterial products,
such as triclosan, can be hazardous in and of itself as well.

The Health
Hazards of Triclosan

Triclosan,
an antibacterial compound that acts as the active ingredient in
most antibacterial soap, not only kills bacteria, it also has
been
shown to kill human cells
.

In addition,
these products kill both bad AND good bacteria, which is another
explanation for how they contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant
bacteria and potentially also to allergic
diseases like asthma and hay fever
.

Triclosan
has also been shown
to act as an endocrine disrupter
.

The results
from one 2006 study indicated that triclosan makes thyroid hormones
much more potent, speeding up their impact. It may also make protein
receptors more sensitive to thyroid hormones.

And there's
more…

The Dangers
of Triclosan and Triclocarban are Far-Reaching

I posted
a report back in 2005 warning about the
compounding danger of using triclosan-containing products with
chlorinated tap water
.  You see, when triclosan is mixed
with the chlorine in tap water, chloroform is formed.

The Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) has classified chloroform as a probable
human carcinogen.

When conducting
testing that closely mirrored typical dishwashing habits and conditions,
researchers found that triclosan reacts with free chlorine to
generate more than 50 parts per billion (ppb) of chloroform in
your dishwater.

According
to researchers, when combined with other disinfection
byproducts (DBPs)
the additional chloroform could easily drive
the concentration of total trihalomethanes above the EPA’s maximum
allowable amount.

Moreover,
as these antimicrobial chemicals flows down your drain, they further
contaminate the environment, and become part of the food chain.

Researchers
have determined that about 75 percent of another popular antimicrobial,
triclocarban (TCC), resists water treatments meant to break it
down and ends up in surface water and in municipal sludge used
as fertilizer.

TCC is also
known to cause cancer and reproductive problems.

Releasing
antimicrobials into the environment in this manner is yet another
way that antimicrobial soaps contribute to the increase in resistance
of pathogens to clinical antibiotics.

Why Use
Something that Has NO Clear Health Benefits and Plenty of Health
Hazards?

The research
clearly shows that you do not need antimicrobial soap to effectively
protect yourself from germs. All you need is plain soap and warm
water.

Studies have
also found that soap
and water work better
than the waterless, alcohol-based hand
wipes and rubs.

So please,
avoid making the mistake of using antibacterial soaps and other
products containing these hazardous ingredients.

Instead,
just use a gentle, chemical-free soap that is safe for your whole
family — and the environment too. Local health food stores typically
carry a variety of natural soaps that will do the trick.

We have been
researching this for some time now and hopefully we will be able
to provide a high quality safe and organic soap bar that you can
use to keep yourself and your family clean.

October
27, 2010

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