Another study has exposed the permeating health impact of a wide array of chemicals. Fifteen chemicals were linked to an earlier start of menopause and harmful effects on ovarian function. The chemicals tested consisted of nine PCB, three pesticides, two of plastics called phthalates and the toxin furan.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) have been banned since 1979. Furans are by-products of industrial combustion, and phthalates are found in plastics, many household items, drugs and personal care products such as lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray.
The research participants consisted of 1,400 menopausal women, and testing their blood and urine samples to investigate their exposure to 111 man made chemicals.
“Earlier menopause can alter the quality of a woman’s life and has profound implications for fertility, health and our society,” said senior study author Dr. Amber Cooper, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“Understanding how the environment affects health is complex,” she said. “This study doesn’t prove causation, but the associations raise a red flag and support the need for future research.”
The researchers specify that the study findings reveal a cascading impact on women’s health in general as a decline in ovarian function and reduced fertility has been associated with earlier development of heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems. Some of these chemicals have also been linked to cancer, early puberty and metabolic syndrome.
“Many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air,” Cooper said. “But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use.”
Spyros Mezitis, M.D., endocrinologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Jill Rabin, M.D., co-chief, division of ambulatory care, Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services, North Shore-LIJ Health System, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, news release, Jan. 28, 2015