To study the impact of these chemicals, known as phthalates, researchers followed just over 1,300 U.S. women for six years to see if exposure contributed to the incidence of diabetes.
About 5% of the women developed diabetes during the study period.
The researchers found that white women exposed to high levels of some phthalates had a 30% to 63% higher chance of developing diabetes. The harmful chemicals were not linked to diabetes risk in Black or Asian women.
Exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals has previously been associated with reduced fertility and other endocrine disorders.
“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, an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at 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 [endocrine-disrupting chemicals] now as they are harmful to human health,” Park said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.
The study, which was published online Feb. 8 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, received funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the SWAN Repository, the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
“Our research is a step in the right direction towards better understanding phthalates’ effect on metabolic diseases, but further investigation is needed,” Park added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on phthalates.
SOURCE: Endocrine Society, news release, Feb. 8, 2023
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