What if environmental toxins were causing early menopause in women?
Extensive exposure to common chemicals may cause early menopause, according to a new study. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine found that women with high exposure to PCBs, phthalates, and pesticides tended to begin menopause 2-4 years earlier than women with lower levels.
"Earlier menopause can alter the quality of a woman's life and has profound implications for fertility, health and our society," senior study author Dr. Amber Cooper, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a university news release, reported on WebMD.
"Understanding how the environment affects health is complex," she added. "This study doesn't prove causation, but the associations raise a red flag and support the need for future research."
As part of the study, researchers analyzed blood and urine samples from 1,400 menopausal women averaging 61 years of age. In all, 111 chemicals were identified including PCBs, phthalates, and several kinds of pesticides. These chemicals can be found in common household products like lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, cleaning products, and drugs.
"Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggest we as a society should be concerned," Cooper said.
Not only did high exposure to these chemicals cause early menopause and reduced fertility, they also caused a reduction in ovarian function, which has been known to cause earlier development of heart disease, osteoporosis, and other health conditions.
"Many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air," Cooper said. "But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use."
More research needs to be done to look at how much of certain chemicals actually causes a disruption. In the mean time, while it’s impossible to completely eliminate your exposure to environmental toxins, there are steps that you can take to limit them.
For example, buy more natural personal care products that are free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, and sulfates. Learn to read labels on your toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Don’t use so many products. In other words, keep it simple when you can. Clean with natural products. In our home, we use mostly baking soda, vodka, and white vinegar to clean. Buy more natural laundry and dishwasher soap and skip the dryer sheets. Cleanse your kitchen of plastic, especially containers used to cook and store food. And of course, eat fresh, organic foods as much as possible. Do the best you can to live a more natural life and it will vastly reduce your exposure to so many of the hidden chemicals in our lives.
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