Issue Date: March 19, 2007
Phthalates linked to men's health effects
Exposure to phthalates, which are common ingredients in personal care products and plastics, appears to be linked with the prevalence of abdominal obesity and insulin resistance in men, according to a report by Richard W. Stahlhut of the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry and coworkers (Environ. Health Perspect., DOI: 10.1289/ehp.9882). In a study of 1,451 men in the U.S., the researchers discovered that the concentrations of three common phthalate metabolites found in urine—especially monoethyl phthalate (shown)—correlate with both waist size and insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. The scientists knew that low testosterone levels in men seem to cause abdominal obesity and insulin resistance and that six phthalate metabolites commonly found in urine were known to lower or suspected of lowering testosterone levels. The team decided to examine whether the adverse outcomes of low testosterone and phthalate exposure were connected. To discern a stronger cause-effect relationship, a more detailed study is needed that follows men over time, Stahlhut says.
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