Phthalates and Diabetes: Is There a Connection?

Sarah Howard
Coordinator of the CHE Diabetes-Obesity Spectrum Working Group

If you saw the news on Friday the 13th of April, you may have seen mention of a new study on phthalates and diabetes (see WebMD, the Huffington Post and Fox News

The actual study is on PubMed, with a statement by lead author Dr. Monica Lind at Uppsala University.

What did Dr. Lind and her colleagues find? That three of the four phthalate metabolites they measured were associated with diabetes in elderly Swedish adults—even after adjusting for obesity, smoking, exercise, and other factors linked to diabetes. People with higher phthalate metabolite levels had about twice the risk of diabetes as those with lower levels. In this study, the phthalate metabolites linked to diabetes included MMP, MEP, and MiBP, all of which are metabolites of phthalates used in personal care products. Taking the research one step farther, the authors found that MMP and MEP were related to insulin resistance, while MiBP was related to poor insulin secretion. (The phthalate MEHP, a breakdown product of the common plasticizer DEHP, was not related to diabetes or the other health effects). These four phthalate metabolites were detected in almost all study participants.

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