Second Opinion

--COMMON WISDOM: Antibacterial cleansers kill more germs than plain soap.

--SECOND OPINION: Not always. Researchers at last week's annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America announced the results of a rigorous, double-blind, randomized clinical trial. They gave 222 volunteers a year's supply of either antimicrobial or regular soap. At the end of the trial, folks who used the antibacterials had about as many germs on their hands as those who used ordinary soap.

--BOTTOM LINE: If you must supersanitize your skin, say the researchers, try an alcohol-based antiseptic. --By Janice M. Horowitz

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