Read the current Defeat Diabetes® E-Lerts™ Newsletter

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Defeat Diabetes
150 153rd Ave,
Suite 300

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Chemicals in Cosmetics Linked to Diabetes

Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012

Serum levels of phthalate metabolites are linked with the development of type 2 diabetes in the elderly.
Researchers P. Monica Lind, PhD, from Uppsala University, and colleagues noted that, "Phthalates are found in numerous household products, such as food packaging, furniture, and toys, and in medical devices, such as tubing and intravenous bags."

After adjustment for sex, diabetes was significantly associated with the presence of monoethyl phthalate (MEP), with an odds ratio of 1.30 (95% CI 1 to 1.69, P=0.049) as well as with detectable monoisobutyl phthalate (MiBP), with an odds ratio of 1.25 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.46, P=0.006).

After further adjustment for cholesterol, triglycerides, body mass index, smoking, exercise, and education, MiBP remained significantly related to diabetes (OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.55, P=0.0025), Lind and colleagues they found.

Phthalates also are commonly found in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, and concerns have been raised about potential adverse health consequences associated with exposure. Phthalates can bind to certain receptors involved in homeostasis of fats and lipids known as nuclear peroxisome proliferator-activator receptors (PPARs), and PPAR antagonists are used to treat type 2 diabetes.

To explore a possible relationship between these chemical metabolites and diabetes, the investigators analyzed data from a prospective study of 1,016 elderly residents. They sought to measure serum levels of 10 phthalate metabolites, but only levels of MEP, MiBP, monomethyl phthalate (MMP), and mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) were detectable at levels of 0.2 ng/mL in most study participants. Glucose tests were done after an overnight fast, and diabetes was identified in 119 individuals.

Analysis showed that patients in the highest quintiles of MEP, MiBP, and MMP levels had double or more the risk of diabetes compared with the lowest quintiles, with odds ratios ranging from 2 to 2.50. But the highest risk was for individuals with MEP in the third quintile (OR 2.87, 95% CI 1.37 to 6.03, P=0.005). Both MEHP and MiBP had significant associations with elevated proinsulin-to-insulin ratios, while MEP and MMP were related to a high insulin resistance index.

The researchers noted that MEP, MiBP, and MMP all are metabolites of related compounds that are most commonly used in personal care products, while the use of MEPH is primarily to increase the flexibility of plastic.

They hypothesized that the mechanism by which phthalates contribute to diabetes was probably through effects on PPARs.

"Because phthalate metabolites are known ligands to PPARs, receptors known to influence glucose homeostasis, impairments in PPAR-signaling pathways are most likely to contribute to the actions of phthalates on glucose metabolism and diabetes development," they explained.

Practice Pearls:
  • Note that phthalates are found in numerous plastic items, including toys, medical devices and intravenous tubing, as well as in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
  • A prospective Swedish cohort study has found a link between serum levels of several phthalate metabolites and type 2 diabetes.

Source:, Lind P, et al "Circulating levels of phthalate metabolites are associated with prevalent diabetes in the elderly" Diabetes Care 2012; 35: 1-6; DOI: 10.2337/dc11-2396.

Join us on Facebook

Send your unopened, unexpired diabetes testing supplies to:

Defeat Diabetes Foundation
150 153rd Ave, Suite 300
Madeira Beach, FL 33708


DDF advertisement

 Friendly Banner

Friendly Banner
Analyze nutrition content by portion
DDF advertisement