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(Photo: Q.Equinox.com)

By Wendy Schmid for Q.Equinox.com

Movies like Contagion and headline-grabbing bacterias like MRSA don’t help assuage fears of rampant germ proliferation, but if you tend to reach for the hand sanitizer every time you touch an elevator button, doorknob, or dumbbell, curb your enthusiasm.

There’s good reason to take it easy with these chemical-laden germ killers. They frequently contain triclosan, a chemical that many consider to be an obesogen—i.e. one that can potentially cause weight gain by disrupting the body’s endocrine system.

“Animal studies indicate that triclosan can affect thyroid function,” says Tom Zoeller, an endocrinologist and Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “And it’s plausible that triclosan can interfere with thyroid hormones in people, though it’s not been well studied.” The chemical structure of triclosan is similar to that of thyroid hormone itself—one reason it could interfere with the body’s natural levels. Thyroid hormones control metabolism, so if you reduce thyroid function you can gain weight. Not a situation you want to inadvertently create in the process of trying to stay healthy, fit, and germ-free.

To cut down on exposure, wash your hands with good old soap (not the anti-bacterial variety, which often contains triclosan, too) and water whenever possible, and choose a healthier triclosan-free sanitizer when on the go.

These five alternatives kill germs with natural, botanical agents…

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