ADELAIDE, Australia — Are common products inside our homes potentially the cause of serious health conditions? New research indicates that everyday chemicals are linked to chronic diseases in men.
A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian and Medical Research Institute carried out the research focusing on phthalates, which are common chemicals that most of us come into contact with daily.
Phthalates are often found in a variety of consumer goods including children’s toys, food packaging and medications. (This PDF from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences explains how to determine if products contain phthalates.)
In December 2013, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment officially listed diisononyl phthalate, a commonly used phthalate, as a chemical “known to the state of California to cause cancer.” Later, in April 2016, a “No Significant Risk Level” was established at 146ug per day for the same phthalate.
The researchers performed observations on 1,500 men from South Australia. The team found phthalates levels were detected in the urine of more than 99% of those 35 years or older. The lead author of the study, Zumin Shi, specified that high phthalate levels correlated with a likeliness of suffering from some the most prominent chronic diseases in the United States.
“We found that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure increased among those men with higher phthalate levels,” says Shi, an associate professor at the Adelaide Medical School and the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, in a university press release.
“Importantly, while 82% of the men we tested were overweight or obese – conditions known to be associated with chronic diseases – when we adjusted for this in our study, the significant association between high levels of phthalates and disease was not substantially altered,” adds Shi.
Previous research found that men who frequently ate processed foods, drank sodas, and consumed fewer fruits and vegetables showed higher levels phthalates.
In the current study, levels remained the same even when socio-economic status and healthy habits were taken into consideration.
Shi suggested that although the studies were performed on men, it is likely that similar results would appear in studies with women.
“While further research is required, reducing environmental phthalates exposure where possible, along with the adoption of healthier lifestyles, may help to reduce the risk of chronic disease,” he adds.
The findings were published in the October 2017 edition of the journal Environmental Research.