Phthalates, theÂ common plasticizers and solvents used in everything from packaged foods to baby products, continue to be linked to health problems. Scientists think these toxic chemicals might be responsible for all sorts of conditions, includingÂ increased risk of diabetes and cancer. Now,Â new evidence shows that phthalates, especially those in cosmetics, are also linked to early menopause.
Dr. Natalia Grindler, of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, and colleagues studied the levels of pthalates in the blood or urine of 5,700 women. Those with higher exposure to phthalates were found to go through menopause almost two and half years earlier than women with lower exposures to the chemicals. And in some cases, exposure could cause women to cease having periods much earlier (up to 15 years!)
Early menopause is linked to higher risks of heart disease and stroke. Dr. Grindler said:
“Early menopause has a lot of impact on your health. We absolutely think these chemicals have the potential to affect ovarian function and human reproduction.Thereâ€™s a lot that we donâ€™t know at this point, our research is still preliminary, but itâ€™s enough to suggest it is having a detrimental impact in the long term.”
Dr. Grindler didn’t explain why some women had such significantly higher levels of phthalate than others, but it might be linked to use of cosmetics or a diet high in packaged foods or bottled water.
More research is needed on the way that phthalates can affect humans, especially our human reproductive systems. But if you’re concerned about exposure, a little research into the products you put in your home and on your body might be able to prevent health problems down the road.
There’s not much you can do to totally avoid phthalates, as they’re ubiquitous in so many different types of everyday products. But if you’d like to lessen your exposure, it’s fairly easy to find cleaning products and cosmetics that are clearly marked phthalate-free. The Environmental Working Group has a list of a few products that don’t contain phthalates, and all Burt’s Bees products are phthalate-free.