Study: Phthalates exposure may boost diabetes risk


STOCKHOLM — A group of industrial chemicals commonly found in cosmetics and plastics may disrupt insulin production, particularly among seniors, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden found that when examining 1,000 70-year-old women and men in Uppsala, as part of the PIVUS study, those that were exposed to phthalates — chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, self-care products, solid air fresheners and scented candles — had roughly twice the risk of developing diabetes — even after adjusting for obesity, blood lipids, smoking and exercise habits — compared with those with lower levels. Additionally, certain phthalates were associated with disrupted insulin production in the pancreas, the researchers found.

"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," said Monica Lind, associate professor of environmental medicine at the section for occupational and environmental medicine at Uppsala University. "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."

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