nail polishJust this past weekend, I was chatting with a couple of my friends -- one a mom, one who will likely be one in the next year or so -- about the chemicals in baby and personal care products. One of them said she felt like it's almost impossible to steer clear of them, and that's a sad but very good point. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop trying -- especially when new research keeps coming out that everyday products are putting our health at serious risk.
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The latest, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal published by the government's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, found that hormone-disrupting phthalates -- commonly found in beauty products like nail polishes, hairsprays, and perfumes -- might increase risk of type 2 diabetes for some women. Grrreat. As if we didn't have enough to worry about already, right?
The researchers analyzed urine samples from 2,350 women aged 20 to 80 who participated in the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that the women who had the highest concentration of two types of phthalates (mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate) were two times more likely to have diabetes compared to women with the least amount of the chemicals. Women with moderately high levels of the phthalates were 70 percent more likely to have diabetes.
To be fair, the researchers note that:
We know that in addition to being present in personal care products, 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, they're not sure if they can blame personal care products yet, but that isn't exactly enough to put my mind at ease! It's still freaky these chemicals are found in so many products, personal care and otherwise -- from soaps to nail polishes, moisturizers to electronics, toys, and adhesives. So it's nearly impossible to avoid them! And yet, with research like this going public, the FDA has no problem with the chemicals, most recently determining that there's "insufficient evidence upon which to take regulatory action." Ugh.
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Still, they say, suuuure, go ahead, read the labels on your products to see whether they contain contain phthalates ... Just don't bother trying when it comes to perfumes, because current regulations don't require the listing of the individual fragrance ingredients!
Knowing that these hormone disruptors could be contributing to diabetes or various other problems and in turn, rising health care costs, guess we're left with one choice. It's up to us to do our best to avoid products made with chemicals that "could"/"might"/"may possibly" cause our health harm.
Does this make you want to be more aware of the chemicals in the products you buy or do you already try to steer clear of phthalates?
Image via Danielle Elder/Flickr
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