Cosmetics Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes

Toxins in cosmetics linked to increased risk of diabetes

July 17, 2012

In 2008, a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found a number of toxic chemicals in everyday cosmetics, including “necessities,” such as soap and shampoo.

Early in 2012, the FDA completed a study that unveiled unsafe levels of lead in more than 400 major brands of lipstick.

Late last week, a study published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, concluded that phthalates, found in everything from shampoo to nail polish to mascara, has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes in women. Phthalates are another toxic chemical, found in most cosmetics, and are commonly known “endocrine disruptors” or hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to reproductive issues, certain cancers and speculation even exists that endogenous enzymes may mesh with these chemicals to produce carcinogens.

The study analyzed information taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted by the CDC between 2001 and 2008. Researchers looked at samples from more than 2,350 women aged 20 to 80 years – 217 of which reported having diabetes.

Tamarra James-Todd of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Women’s Health and her team found that women who had the highest concentration of two chemicals, mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate, were two times more likely to have diabetes than women with the lowest levels of these chemicals.

Women with moderate levels of the chemicals, mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, had increased insulin levels, raising their risk of diabetes by approximately 70 percent.

The researchers are quick to caution that more research is necessary as this analysis is largely dependent on self-reported incidence of the disease and does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. It does, however, open the door for the necessity of a new, long-term study on the subject.

In the mean time, you can protect yourself from the dangerous toxins in cosmetics – many product makers have become aware of the need for less chemicals and a more pure product – leading to the creation of products that are organic and all-natural. Before you buy, check ingredient labels – just because a product claims to be “all-natural” does not guarantee it is all-natural. If you are uncertain, a great resource is the EWG’s Skin Deep website, offering a database dedicated to rating a cosmetic’s safety.

Remember, male, female young or old – anyone may be exposed to toxins in soaps, shampoos and lotions – not just women who wear make-up.


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