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Diabetes Risk in Women May Be Cause By Some Personal Care Products

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In a new research, lead by Tamarra James-Todd, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Women’s Health at BWH, analyzed urinary concentrations of phthalates in 2,350 women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that women with higher levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to have diabetes.

The conclusion of the study shows an association between increased concentrations of phthalates in the body and an increased risk of diabetes in women.  Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products such as makeup materials, moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes.  They are also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products.  This study was published in the online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, July 13, 2012.

Diabetes is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too high or elevated (hyperglycemia). This results in too much glucose building up in the blood. This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine.


The concluding statement from the researcher were

“Women who had the highest levels of the chemicals mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate had almost twice the risk of diabetes compared to women with the lowest levels of those chemicals.”

“Women with higher than median levels of the chemical mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate had approximately a 60 percent increased risk of diabetes.”

“Women with moderately high levels of the chemicals mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate had approximately a 70 percent increased risk of diabetes.”

Dr. James-Todd said“This is an important first step in exploring the connection between phthalates and diabetes,” said “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.”

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