The chemical in plastics may cause type 2 diabetes

The Phthalates group is a chemical used to soften plastics and increase their flexibility. These chemicals are used in many industrial applications.

  • food packaging
  • children’s toys
  • personal care products
  • medical devices
  • cosmetics
  • perfumes

These chemicals can easily be released into the environment from plastic products and can be absorb by the body via inhalation or dermal exposure.

Recent studies have revealed that they may pose health risks, despite being previously deemed safe by regulatory agencies.

Endocrine Disrupting Effects

The endocrine disruption caused by phthalates is known. They interfere with hormone production in the body.

These drugs have shown negative effects on the endocrine and other organ systems, including the reproductive system .

The pancreas is one of the organs which appears to be affected. The pancreas is a key organ in controlling blood sugar levels and insulin, both of which are important factors in type 2 diabetes.

Phthalates and Food: Risks

Food and beverage can accumulate phthalates through the food chain and release of packaging materials.

Recent research has revealed that high levels of phthalates are found in soft drinks, mineral waters, wine, oil and ready-to eat meals.

Due to their physical and chemical differences, the impact on food and beverage products of phthalates is still being debated.

Phthalates in Type 2 Diabetes

In February 2023, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that examined the link between phthalates in midlife women and type 2 diabetics.

Researchers analyzed six-year data of 1308 women involved in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.

Researchers found an interesting pattern when they examined the levels of 11 different phthalate-metabolites in urine samples.

White women with higher levels of certain high-molecular-weight phthalate metabolites had a 30% to 63% higher incidence of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with lower levels.

This association did not occur in Black women or Asian women.

Remember that these results are only a correlation and not a cause. It is necessary to conduct further research in order to determine whether phthalates are directly responsible for type 2 diabetes, or if there are other factors involved.

It is also not clear why impact seems to differ based on race or ethnicity.

Reducing Your Risk

There is a lot of research being done on the health effects of phthalates, but you can reduce your exposure until this is fully understood.

Tips to reduce your exposure to phthalates:

  • Avoid products that contain phthalates by reading the labels.
  • Avoid plastic containers for food, especially hot liquids and foods.
  • Use stainless steel or glass containers to store food
  • Do not use plastic wrap to store food.
  • Use only phthalate-free personal care products.
  • Always wash your hands after using products for personal care.

While it is not possible to avoid exposure to phthalates at this time, being aware of the risks associated with them is a positive step.