Chemicals in make-up and plastics linked to diabetes: research
Chemicals in plastics, cosmetics and toys may be linked to a higher chance of developing diabetes, it was found.

Telegraph | April 13, 2012
By Rebecca Smith

A study in Sweden has found that people with 'modest' levels of the chemicals in their blood are twice as likely to develop diabetes.

The chemicals called phthalates are used in products such as clingfilm as it can be a softening agent in plastics but they can be used in cosmetics such as self tans and perfumes.

The researchers analysed data from 1,000 people aged over 70. of which 114 developed diabetes.

After taking into account factors that are known to cause type 2 diabetes, including obesity, smoking and high cholesterol, they found people with higher levels of phthalates in their blood were more likely to develop diabetes.

The findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Monica Lind, associate professor of environmental medicine at the Section for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University, said: "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."

She added: "We have done other studies into the effects of phthalates and discovered people exposed to them have a higher risk of obesity.

"On a study we did last year, we found pesticides and those kinds of substances gave people a higher risk of obesity and atheriosclerosis."

"Those pollutants containing phthalates are making people obese and now we find they could get diabetes. These products need to be tested.

"Anyone is exposed to them in many different ways. People can inhale them if they are used in hairspray or air fresheners and food can also be contaminated because of phthalates in the packaging.

"Many are used in body products, like face creams, fake tan, make up and perfumes. Not only does the packaging contain them, but they are absorbed into the body and bloodstream through the skin.

"In perfume, we inhale the phthalates that are used to delay the scent and increase the lifetime of the perfume."

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “This paper attempts to link the presence of phthalates in the bloodstream and the presence of Type 2 diabetes in an elderly population. It is a difficult area to research and this study was based on a relatively small number of white adults over 70 years old. It shows an association between some metabolites, which are breakdown products, and the presence of Type 2 diabetes, but does not show that their presence causes Type 2 diabetes.

“We would be concerned if the reporting of this study diluted the very simple and evidence-based message that limiting the amount of calories in your diet and being regularly physically active is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight and so reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes.”