Phthalates associated with the development of diabetes

BPA in bottles is just the beginning

If you know me (and certainly my patients can attest to this) you know I never drink anything out of a plastic bottle.

There are just too many unhealthy things about plastic bottles to worry about. Including the infamous bisphenol A or BPA. BPA has phyto-estrogenic properties. Which essentially means it can throw off the balance of your sex hormones.

And now you have to worry about diabetes as well. This time thanks to phthalates (another plasticizer). Phthalates are found in common plastics, cosmetics, scented candles and even some pharmaceuticals and medical devices. And a new study shows that phthalates are associated with the development of diabetes.

The study was published in a recent issue of Diabetes Care. The investigators found that the three phthalate metabolites they studied were associated with a 25% to 30% increase in the risk for diabetes.

Previous studies of phthalates have mainly focused on how they affect reproductive health and childhood development. These chemicals act as endocrine disrupters in the body, having an impact on sex hormones.

This new study looked at blood samples of over 1,000 people over the age of 65 and analyzed it for blood sugar, insulin, and evidence of environmental toxins. Including several substances formed when the body breaks down phthalates.

Obviously, diabetes was more common among participants who were overweight and had high-cholesterol levels. But, those individuals with higher phthalate levels had roughly twice the risk of developing diabetes compared to those with lower levels.

And this increased risk started with low levels of phthalates. Just to put this into perspective…we shouldn’t have any phthalates in our bloodstream.

Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to avoid phthalates. Most of us come into contact with them every day in our personal care products. They are the carriers of anything scented.

It’s still unclear as to how the phthalates cause the damage. But researchers believe they may change the way our bodies process and store fat. And they are related to either poor insulin secretion or insulin resistance.

This is a huge cause for concern. But don’t count on the FDA to do anything about it anytime soon. In fact, just this March the FDA refused to ban BPA. Funny how an agency that is supposed to protect our health seems to go out of its way not to.

So once again, the burden is going to fall on the consumer to speak out. To call on manufacturers and legislators to phase out phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA.

Until then, try to choose products that don’t contain these chemicals. Though I realize that’s actually not the easiest thing to do…I’ve been trying for years now, and it’s nearly impossible. The one silver lining here is that if you do manage to avoid exposure…these chemicals do leave your body naturally over time. Unlike heavy metals.