Mascary! Make-up May Cause Early Menopause


Women who regularly use cosmetics to look younger may want to rethink that strategy as new research connects chemicals in cosmetics to an increased risk for early onset of menopause.

The research, led by a team from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, found that women exposed to higher levels of certain chemicals called phthalates were at a greater risk of starting menopause as much as two years earlier than the average age of 51, than women who had lower levels of phthalates in their blood or urine. For some women, menopause symptoms were experienced as much as fifteen years early—in their mid-thirties—when most women are typically still fertile.

Study author Natalia Grindler presented the research at the recent American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s conference held in San Diego. The data looked at blood and urine levels of phthalates in more than 5,700 women and found the higher the level of the chemicals, the more likely early onset menopause occurred.

With menopause comes the increased risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and other health risks including some types of cancer.

Phthalates have been connected with a number of health issues in recent years including an increased risk for some types of cancer, diabetes and obesity. The esters from phthalic acid are commonly used in plastics to increase flexibility. They’re also commonly used on pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements as enteric coatings. They’re found in adhesives, glues, electronics, household cleaners, toys, paints, certain food products and in cosmetics including hair care, skin care products and all sorts of make-up.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. Twitter @jillettinger |