WASHINGTON (CBSDC) —  High-maintenance women could be at high-risk for developing diabetes, a new scientific study suggests.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said they found a link between phthalates – a class of chemicals found in products such as nail polish, soaps, perfumes, hair and tanning sprays – and the metabolic disease.

According to the study, 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 levels slightly higher than the median of the chemical mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate had approximately a 60 percent increased risk of diabetes. And women with just moderately high levels of the chemicals mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate had approximately a 70 percent increased risk of diabetes.

The study group consisted of a representative sample of American women and was controlled for socio-demographic, behavioral and dietary factors.

The researchers analyzed information from 2,350 American women between the ages of 20 and 80 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention between 2001 and 2008.

As part of the survey, participants underwent physical exams and provided urine samples and 217 reported having diabetes.

However, the women self-reported their diabetes and the researchers warned against reading too deeply into the study due to the possibility of reverse causation.

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

The researchers also admitted that the endocrine disrupting chemical phthalates are also commonly found in many adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products widely used by people every day.

This is one of a few recent studies linking the man-made phthalates to various health issues. Researchers from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center found a link between obesity in young children and exposure to phthalates. They said their study emphasized the importance of reducing exposure to the chemicals where possible.

-Ben Fearnow


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