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Plastic products linked to chronic illnesses

By on July 17, 2017

Chemicals found in plastic products we use every day can be responsible for chronic disease, according to new research

Australian researchers have demonstrated a link between plastic compounds and some serious chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular illness and type 2 diabetes, by measuring the levels of the chemicals in urine.

In a world where everything is wrapped in plastic, from food to toys and every day beauty-care objects, many of use do not realize the danger that we’re exposing ourselves to. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are considered to be toxic for human health and have already been replaced in Canada, U.S. and some of the European countries. Nevertheless, phthalates can still be found in millions of products worldwide.

The research conducted by the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in collaboration with professor Zumin Shi from the University of Adelaide’s Medical School, recently published in the journal Environmental Research, explores exposure to these chemicals among 1.500 men from the Austalian continent.

With the modern diet including significant amounts of processed foods and bottled drinks, it seems that chronic disease is just around the corner for people embracing nowadays lifestyle, as according to the results of the study, 99.6 per cent of the men who got tested have been found positive for phthalates.

“We found that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure increased among those men with higher total phthalate levels”, Professor Zumin Shi declared.

The results remained unchanged even when data was adjusted while accounting for other factors, such as lifestyle, social class and obesity.

Other studies have also underlined the link between plastic chemicals and chronic disease in women and children. The study in Australia is the first one that finds the same connections in adult males.

Despite more research is needed to proof a direct causality between these two factors, Professor Shi explains: “While we still don’t understand the exact reasons why phthalates are independently linked to disease, we do know the chemicals impact on the human endocrine system, which controls hormone release that regulate[s] the body’s growth, metabolism, and sexual development and function.”

Moreover, an inflammatory effect has been observed at all phthalate compounds, which is another reason why researchers believe that plastic chemicals can trigger chronic illness.

“While further research is required, reducing environmental phthalates exposure where possible, along with the adoption of healthier lifestyles, may help to reduce the risk of chronic disease,” Professor Shi concludes.


About Laura Parvan

Medical professional, blogging passionate, with a high interest in social media impact on health-care information.