Hand Sanitizers May Not Keep You Safe

Study: Hand sanitizers don't reduce risk of cold or flu

By Kelvin Robinson
|  Monday, Sep 13, 2010  |  Updated 2:15 PM EDT
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Hand Sanitizers May Not Keep You Safe

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Attention germaphobes! Using those little bottles of hand sanitizer may not actually reduce your chance of catching a cold or getting the flu.

Researchers at the University of Virginia studied 100 people who were told to use an alcohol-based sanitizer every three hours or so, and another 100 people who went au naturel.  The study was sponsored by Dial Corp and published in the Daily Progress newspaper.

Out of those tested, the COLD results:

  • 42/100 with sanitizer
  • 51/100 without sanitizer

Out of those tested, the FLU results:

  • 12/100 with sanitizer
  • 15/100 without sanitizer

“We all thought if you used hand disinfectants, it would have an impact,” Dr. Ronald Turner, the lead researcher in the study, told The Daily Progress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hand washing to keep from getting sick. Researchers told the Daily Progress they would have to do further studies to find out if air and not hand-to-hand contact might be what transmits the infections.

Experts say studies in the past have actually shown sanitizers can be effective in preventing gastrointestinal diseases. Sanitizers also outperformed antibacterial soap in reducing hand bacteria, according to a 2002 CDC study.

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