Chemicals in plastic linked to diabetes

Phthalates double risk of diabetes in women with highest exposure levels

Chemical compounds called phthalates, commonly found in household plastics and medical supplies, have been linked to higher rates of diabetes in women, a study finds.

Research led by Harvard Medical School scientists found the chemicals doubled the rate of diabetes in women with the highest levels—typically black and Latino women living in poverty, according to Environmental Health News. Phthalates, which make plastics more flexible, can be found in vinyl flooring, adhesives and shower curtains. Though obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, nearly a quarter of normal-weight adults have a metabolic disorder, which has led some scientists to suggest exposure to chemical contaminants like phthalates could explain the disconnect.

Previous research found attention problems, reduced IQs and fertility issues in boys exposed to phthalates in the womb. More than 75 percent of Americans have traces of the compounds in their urine.