Entries in Muscle (2)


Soap Ingredient Triclosan Linked to Muscle Weakness

Altrendo Images/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DAVIS, Calif.) -- Soap may hold a dirty little secret in the form of a chemical called triclosan.  Used in antiseptic hand soaps, shaving cream, toothpaste, deodorant and other hygiene products, a new study has found the chemical can weaken muscle contraction.

When researchers at the University of California at Davis exposed the individual muscle fibers of fish and mice to triclosan, they found it impaired the normal contraction mechanism.  Both skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle no longer operated normally, and this was true when the mice and fish were tested themselves, or their muscle fibers were examined individually in a test tube.

Mice showed up to a 25 percent reduction in heart function measured within 20 minutes of exposure to the chemical, as well as an 18 percent reduction in grip strength up to 60 minutes after exposure.  Fish that swam in triclosan-tainted water for seven days performed worse on swimming tests than those that did not.

While the evidence for toxicity is largely based on animal studies, some experts have said that it might affect humans too.

"This is an interesting and potentially concerning finding," said Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, dean of global health in the department of preventive medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.  "Many synthetic chemicals now known to be toxic to humans were first recognized as toxic in animal studies."

Landrigan said that exposure in the womb is of particular worry.

"Early development is a time of particular vulnerability to toxic chemicals.  Minute exposures at the wrong moment in embryonic or fetal development can have devastating effects.  The great complexity of early human development creates windows of vulnerability, periods of heightened sensitivity to toxic chemicals that exist only in early life and have no counterpart in adulthood," he said.

Adding to the potential worry, previous studies have found that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals, or cause antibiotic resistance.

Not all experts believe the chemical is a problem because in it remains bound to blood proteins, which should in theory diminish its impact on humans.  And manufacturers are adamant that there is no real proof triclosan is dangerous for humans.  They're also quick to point out several recent studies that demonstrated its effectiveness in killing germs.

But some consumer groups and members of Congress have called for a ban on antiseptic soap products.

Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are currently reviewing the chemical's safety, but the FDA said it didn't have sufficient evidence for a ban.

This latest study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How Much Protein Helps with Weight Loss?

Creatas/Thinkstock(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- It’s no secret that consuming excess calories leads to excess body fat, and new research suggests that, despite the belief that packing in a lot of protein can pack on the pounds, protein intake may actually have no impact on body fat.

But, says the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, protein consumption does appear to be associated with the gain or loss of muscle mass and how the body burns calories.

Researchers led by Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., overfed 25 healthy adults during an eight-week period under very carefully controlled laboratory conditions. The participants were fed diets consisting of about 40 percent more calories than they normally consume. The only dietary elements that varied among participants were fat and protein levels: Some ate a low-protein diet (5 percent protein), others a normal-protein diet (15 percent), and a third group a high-protein diet (25 percent).

Participants who were fed the low-protein diet gained significantly less weight than the other groups, but all three groups gained a similar amount of body fat.

“The hypothesis was that the low-protein and high-protein diets might affect fat gain, but they didn’t.  Fat gain isn’t modulated to any significant degree by protein intake,” he added.

Although participants in the low-protein group gained less weight, they also lost more muscle mass, which experts say could be detrimental to their overall health.

“Five percent [protein] is too low and is not good, even if one loses weight, as dietary protein is used to build and repair tissue.  Low protein is a form of malnutrition,” said Carla Wolper, research faculty at the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital.

But that doesn’t mean people should gorge themselves on protein.  The study’s normal and high protein groups gained muscle mass, but also gained body fat.

“What the public should take away here is that total caloric intake matters when it comes to weight gain,” said Lona Sandon, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.  “Choosing more of your calories from protein may help increase lean muscle mass, but people must keep calories in balance to avoid body fat gain.”

In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Zhaoping Li and David Heber of the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine wrote that the study highlights the importance of dietary protein.

“The results suggest that overeating low protein diets may increase fat deposition leading to loss of lean body mass despite lesser increases in body weight,” they wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio