Chemicals in personal care products may increase risk of diabetes in women

July 13, 2012

A study lead by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) 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 moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes. They are also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products. This finding is published in the July 13, 2012 online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives

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

  • 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.
The study population consisted of a representative sample of American women and was controlled for socio-demographic, dietary and . However, the women self-reported their diabetes and researchers caution against reading too much 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 , 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."

Explore further: Use of baby personal care products associated with higher levels of phthalates

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Diets avoiding dry-cooked foods can protect against diabetes

August 24, 2016

Simple changes in how we cook could go a long way towards preventing diabetes, say researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A new randomized controlled trial, published online July 29 in the journal Diabetologia, ...

New study reveals a novel protein linked to type 2 diabetes

August 16, 2016

Findings from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), which appear in eLife, provide a possible explanation as to why most people who are obese develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. A minority of obese individuals, ...

Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes

June 1, 2015

Bacteria and viruses have an obvious role in causing infectious diseases, but microbes have also been identified as the surprising cause of other illnesses, including cervical cancer (Human papilloma virus) and stomach ulcers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.