Chemicals in beauty and personal care products may boost women’s risk of diabetes, a new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, suggests.
Researchers found that elevated concentrations of chemicals called phthalates in women’s bodies are associated with an increased chance of developing diabetes. Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals commonly used in products such as soaps, nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes and moisturizers.
Researchers analyzed concentrations of phthalates in the urine of 2,350 women from across the United States. They found that women with the highest levels of mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate were nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as those with the lowest levels of the two chemicals.
Women with higher-than-average levels of mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate had about a 60 percent increased risk of diabetes, and those with moderately high levels of the chemicals mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate had about a 70 percent increased risk of diabetes.
Tamarra James-Todd, the lead esearcher from the division of women’s health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, said, ”This is an important first step in exploring the connection between phthalates and diabetes. We know that in addition to being present in personal care products, phthalates also exist in certain types of medical devices and medication that is used to treat diabetes and this could also explain the higher level of phthalates in diabetic women. So overall, more research is needed.”
The researchers also cautioned that the women in the study “self-reported” their diabetes, a less than ideal method of conducting research. And while the study found a potential connection between phthalates and diabetes in women, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
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