Phthalates Increase Risk of Diabetes

by Mark Benson on April 14, 2012

Increased risk for seniors

Phthalates are chemicals and enzymes found in most cosmetic and plastic products available in the market today. When these are exposed even at low to moderate levels to senior citizens, the risk of developing diabetes increases two fold.

This conclusion was reached during a study at the Uppsala University that would be published in the journal Diabetes Care. Mono-methyl phthalate (MMP), Mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) and mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP) are metabolites of the chemicals dimethylphthalate (DMP), Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) and Di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP). These chemicals are used in cosmetics, solid air fresheners, scented candles and self-care products. DMP is also used in ink as well as a softening agent for cellulose plastics.

According to Monica Lind, Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Section of the Uppsala University, “Although our results need to be confirmed in more studies, they do support the hypothesis that certain environmental chemicals can contribute to the development of diabetes.”

She worked with Lars Lind, a fellow Professor of Medicine at Uppsala University and they analyzed new information collated from the PIVUS study. This study covers a thousand seventy year old men and women in Uppsala.

The participants were examined and their fasting blood sugar as well as insulin regimens were reviewed and examined. The participants also submitted blood samples to be reviewed for the presence of various environmental toxins, including the resulting chemicals resulting from the breakdown of phthlates. These softening agents in plastics are also known as the carriers for perfumes, cosmetics and other self-care products.

While it was expected that participants who were overweight as well as high blood lipid concentration suffered from diabetes, there was a significant connection found between users of phthalates and diabetes sufferers. Even after considering factors such as obesity, lipid levels in the blood, smoking as well as exercise regiments, those found with high phthalate levels had two times the risk of developing diabetes compared to those who had lower levels of the same chemical. The study further found that certain kinds of phthalates were contributory to the disruption of insulin production in an individual’s pancreas.

Monica Lind added, “However, to find out whether phthalates truly are risk factors for diabetes, further studies are needed that show similar associations. Today, besides the present study, there is only one small study of Mexican women. But experimental studies on animals and cells are also needed regarding what biological mechanisms might underlie these connections.”

While critics of the study said that the exposure to these chemicals do not cause diabetes directly, as the study merely showed an association and not the seminal cause and effect relation to determine that these chemicals actually are contributory to the development of diabetes.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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