A new study issued by Brigham and Women's Hospital showed a link between high concentrations of chemicals called phthalates in the body and an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. The risk was highest for women who use a lot of personal care products that contain phthalates—incuding moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes.
The study showed that women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies had nearly double the risk for type 2 diabetes as those who had the lowest levels.
Phthalates (pronounced, "thalates") are used to make plastics soft and flexible and are also used as solvents. They are practically ubiquitous in modern life, and are found in toys, food packaging, hoses, raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, lubricants, adhesives, detergents, nail polish, hair spray and shampoo. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), phthalates are known endocrine disruptors and infants and pregnant women are those most at risk from exposure. In laboratory tests, phthalates have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of test animals.
An EWG study done in 2000 found a phthalate used in nail polish in the bodies of every single adult tested.
Researchers of the new report caution against reading too much into a single study. "This is an important first step in exploring the connection between phthalates and diabetes," said Dr. James-Todd. "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."
To find out if your cosmetics contain phthalates, or to find healthier alternatives, visit the EWG's cosmetics database at ewg.org/skindeep/.
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