Scientists from four institutions (Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and University of Michigan School of Public Health) have come to the same conclusion as the Swedish researchers I reported on in Lipstick or Diabetes? The personal care products sold to us as body- and beauty-enhancing aids are contributing to the sharp increase in diabetes.
The new study analyzed urine samples from 2,350 women, aged 20 to 80. Participants were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2001 and 2008. Even after controlling for sociodemographic, behavioral and dietary factors, the researchers found that women with more phthalates in their urine were more likely to have reported diabetes.
Those with the highest level of two phthalates (mono-benzyl and mono-isobutyl) in their urine had twice the risk of diabetes of those with the lowest levels. Two others (di-2-ethylhexyl and mono-n-butyl) were associated with a 70 percent increased risk, and mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate with a 60 percent increased risk.
These are not the first two studies to link phthalates with health consequences. Care2 Causes bloggers have reported on a number of them:
- Annie Urban wrote about University of Missouri study that showed BPA exposure is greater than previously understood.
- Joel Boyce posted the results of a Harvard School of Public Health study that found, “If you regularly eat from containers made of the hard, polycarbonate plastic, you will get BPA into your body.”
- Kristina Chew reported on a University of California at San Francisco study that found phthalates and other chemicals, some of them banned, in 99 percent of pregnant women.
- I reported on a Swedish study that linked phthalates in personal care products with a doubling of the risk of developing diabetes.
Phthalates are so widespread that anyone who uses cosmetics, fragrances, moisturizers, soaps, nail polishes, hair spray or other personal care products may be playing with loaded dice. And the dice are loaded with diabetes.
Avoiding phthalates entirely is nearly impossible. If you want to lessen your exposure, shop in stores that carry safer products and inform yourself through some of the many online guides such as those published by the Environmental Working Group. Consumers can wield power in the marketplace when they demand change.
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