According to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in plastics could increase the likelihood of women developing diabetes.
Phthalates, commonly used in plastic materials like personal care items, kids’ toys, and food and drink containers, have been linked to decreased fertility, diabetes, and various other hormonal disorders.
Sung Kyun Park and colleagues examined whether exposure to phthalates was linked to a higher occurrence of diabetes in a group of women in their middle age who come from various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
For this study, the researchers followed one thousand three hundred and eight women from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation-(SWAN) without diabetes for six years, measuring their exposure to 11 phthalate metabolites. They also estimated how much each phthalate metabolite increased the risk of diabetes while adjusting for other factors like demographics, lifestyle, and health. Finally, they examined whether the effects differed for racial and ethnic groups.
During the six-year study, researchers discovered that approximately five percent of women developed diabetes. In addition, these women had phthalate concentrations in their urine comparable to the levels observed in middle-aged women in the U.S. in the early 2000s.
The researchers also found that white women exposed to high levels of certain phthalates had a thirty to sixty-three percent greater risk of developing diabetes. However, there was no connection between harmful chemicals and diabetes in Black or Asian women.
“Our research found phthalates may contribute to a higher incidence of diabetes in women, especially White women, over a six-year period,” said Sung Kyun Park, Sc.D., M.P.H., of the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.
“People are exposed to phthalates daily, increasing their risk of several metabolic diseases. It’s important that we address EDCs now as they are harmful to human health.”
According to Park, the research is a positive step in the right direction toward a better understanding of how phthalates affect metabolic diseases. However, further investigation is needed to comprehend the relationship entirely.