Many people in the United States are being exposed to a chemical called phthalates, which is found in every day things like perfumes, scented lotions, industrial paints, solvents, packaging, scented candles and almost anything else containing fragrance.
In Environmental Health Perspective’s recent study on diabetes and phthalates, they attempted to see if there was something connecting the two. The study was only done on women since the phthalates levels seem to be higher in them than men. The National Health and Nutrition Examination surveyed about 2,350 women. Each woman gave urine samples for chemical testing (questions on diabetes status and phthalates levels were not gathered at the same time which makes the study cross-sectional).
What the examination revealed was that per 1,000 women, there were 40 extra diabetes cases in the women who contained higher phthalates levels compared to those with lower levels. That means the risk of diabetes is twice as high in women who contain higher phthalates levels. Something to consider is that people who have diabetes might have higher phthalates levels because of the particular medications and medical devices that are used to actually treat the disease. Phthalates chemicals are found in many of these products as well. This study did not rule out this detail.
Non-diabetic women with higher phthalates levels showed in the exam to have higher blood glucose levels, which is another originator of diabetes, according to associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Dr. Tamarra James-Todd. She also says that companies are not required to reveal whether or not phthalates is a chemical in their product. Some labels are starting to appear reading “phthalate-free,” however this doesn’t mean the products packaging doesn’t include it.
Although an association was found between diabetes and phthalates, a cause-end-effect relationship was not able to be proven. More research is yet to be done on the study in order to give a better understanding of the association.
perfume bottle image via bigstockphoto.com