How your hand sanitizer may be sabotaging your workout

This sneaky ingredient, found in most conventional hand sanitizers, has been linked to weight gain.

By Wendy Schmid for

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…

More Reading from

The tomato: An antioxidant powerhouse
GPS shoes that guide you home

Loading More Posts...

You May Also Like

Depression myths and facts

6 common myths about depression, busted by therapists

mom in kitchen

The average mom works 98 hours a week, according to a new study

What J.K. Rowling does when she's feeling down

J.K. Rowling turns to this reading-related self-care practice when she’s feeling down

Sleep with dog: Is it safe?

Should you worry about germs if your dog sleeps in your bed?

Taryn Toomey talks about The Class

There is great power in feeling uncomfortable—and Taryn Toomey explains why

Connection between Splenda and Crohn's disease

Not-so-splendid Splenda might trigger inflammatory symptoms in Crohn’s disease patients