WASHINGTON — A common chemical in personal hygiene products like soap and shampoo can raise a woman’s risk of developing diabetes by over 60 percent, new research reveals. Researchers from the University of Michigan say those with higher levels of phthalates in their urine are 30 to 63 percent more likely to develop the metabolic disease.
Phthalates improve the durability of plastics. They are common in personal care products, children’s toys, and food and beverage packaging. Phthalates are even an ingredient in fragrances to help the scent last longer on the skin.
However, scientists also call them endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDRs) because they mimic estrogen. Studies have linked them to breast and ovarian cancer, as well as an early menopause.
“Our research found phthalates may contribute to a higher incidence of diabetes in women, especially White women, over a six-year period,” says Sung Kyun Park, Sc.D., M.P.H., of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in a media release. “People are exposed to phthalates daily increasing their risk of several metabolic diseases. It’s important that we address EDCs now as they are harmful to human health.”
They may also change how humans store fat, leading to obesity. Other studies have found some phthalates may cause fertility issues. One trial even found women are more likely to give birth prematurely if they have high levels of phthalates in their bloodstream before conceiving.
1 in 20 women developed Type 2 diabetes
An analysis of 1,308 women across the U.S. showed above average concentrations raised incidence of Type 2 diabetes by 30 to 63 percent. About five percent of participants developed the condition over the six-year period.
“Our research is a step in the right direction towards better understanding phthalates’ effect on metabolic diseases, but further investigation is needed,” Park concludes.
Researchers have detected the additives, used during the manufacturing of plastic, in numerous everyday products ranging from bottled water to vinyl floorboards. Health organizations have banned some of their manufacturing chemicals due to concerns over their safety. Before this report, previous studies have largely involved rodents.
The findings appear in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.