Plastic Additive in Many Personal Care Products Linked with Higher Diabetes Risk in Women

Plastic Additive in Many Personal Care Products Linked with Higher Diabetes Risk in Women

Phthalates are chemicals added to plastics to make them more durable. They can be found in vinyl flooring, medical tubing, and personal care products like soaps and shampoos. Past research has linked exposure to these chemicals with adverse impacts to the reproductive system and a higher breast cancer mortality rate. Now, a new study finds that they may also increase diabetes risk in women.

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health recently examined whether phthalates played a role in diabetes prevalence among women, who in prior studies, were found to have higher levels of phthalate metabolites from personal care products in urine tests than men. The findings, published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, show that there is a link.

Sung Kyun Park, study co-author from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, says, "Our research found phthalates may contribute to a higher incidence of diabetes in women, especially white women, over a six-year period. People are exposed to phthalates daily increasing their risk of several metabolic diseases. It’s important that we address EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals] now as they are harmful to human health.”

To conduct their research, the team used six years' worth of data from more than 1,300 participants in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). About 5% of these women developed diabetes throughout the study period. Concentrations of phthalates in their urine were similar to those of the average middle-aged American woman at the time. However, white women with high levels of some phthalates had a 30 to 63% higher likelihood of developing diabetes. The same was not true, though, for Black or Asian women.

The team notes that while some of the chemical's metabolites were linked with an increased diabetes incidence, since it wasn't consistent across all racial and ethic groups, more research is necessary.

Park says, "Our research is a step in the right direction towards better understanding phthalates’ effect on metabolic diseases, but further investigation is needed."

To see the whole paper, click here.

Michelle Milliken

Michelle has a journalism degree and has spent more than seven years working in broadcast news. She's also been known to write some silly stuff for humor websites. When she's not writing, she's probably getting lost in nature, with a fully-stocked backpack, of course.

Back to blog