Hair Spray, Nail Polish and... Diabetes?
Could the chemicals in hair spray and other beauty products put you at risk for diabetes? New research published in Environmental Health Perspectives does not directly say that beauty product chemicals known as phthalates are one of the causes of diabetes, but it doesn’t make shocking connections between the two. Chemicals in nail polish, hair spray, perfumes, shampoo and other personal care products, as well in household products, have been linked to diabetes. Does this mean that you can’t paint your nails anymore? Probably not, but this new research is still a significant diabetes study.
Beauty Products and Diabetes
The harmful chemicals in beauty products are known as phthalates, and are used for all sorts of purposes. Not only are phthalates in cosmetics, but also in electronics, packaging and a variety of other uses. To study the effect of these phthalate chemicals, 2,350 women participated in the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 217 of the participants reported having diabetes. Researchers examined urine samples of these women, looking for traces of phthalates.
The problem with phthalate chemicals is that they are said to be is that they are said to be “endocrine-disrupting.” This means they dispute hormone regulation and other normal mechanisms in the body. Phthalates have been linked to diabetes and obesity risk.
The results in this diabetes study definitely linked phthalates and diabetes. Women with the highest amounts of mono-isobutyl phthalate and mono-benzyl phthalate, two different types of phthalates, were nearly twice more at risk for diabetes than women who didn’t. Women with high levels of mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-20-ethylhexyl phthalate, on the other hand, were 70 percent more at risk for diabetes.
Dr. Tamara James-Todd, researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in women’s health, said that phthalates are not just beauty product chemicals, but are also in some diabetes medication and that more research is needed.
Where Are Phthalates Found?
Unfortunately, phthalates are, for the most part, unavoidable. They are in personal care and household products, so they’re all around. It’s also hard to regulate phthalate intake because sometimes, it might not even be on the product label, as it doesn’t have to be. Now that the health effects are being recognized, that may change.
Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, the director of a department of population health at North Shore University Hospital, says that since phthalates in cosmetics are not the only place they can be found, it’s hard to get away from them. He says that they can even find ways into household dust, so to help avoid them, vacuum and dust frequently. Also, wash your hands before eating.
So, should we shun our favorite beauty products? Not necessarily. The study was unable to prove that phthalate chemicals directly cause diabetes or if women with diabetes had higher concentrations of phthalates. Even still, it’s good to keep this diabetes study in mind.