Chemical in nail polish, shampoo, hairspray may increase diabetes risk

Nadine Bells
Shine On

A new study is linking the use of nail polish and hairspray to a higher risk of diabetes.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that phthalates -- a group of endocrine disrupting chemicals often found in personal-care products including nail polish, hairspray, soaps, shampoos and mascara -- are more likely to be discovered in higher concentrations in women with diabetes than in those who don't have the disease.

The study -- published in the July 13 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives -- found a link between higher concentrations of phthalates and insulin resistance, often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, MyHealthNewsDaily reports.

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"Previous studies show women to have higher urinary concentrations of several phthalate metabolites compared to men, possibly due to higher use of personal care products," the researchers write, noting that their study is one of the few to examine the link between these phthalates and diabetes.

The findings suggest that phthalates might disrupt blood sugar metabolism, but more research is needed to confirm this as participants were weren't observed over a long period.

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"This is an important first step in exploring the connection between phthalates and diabetes," says lead researcher Tamarra James-Todd, PhD. "We know that in addition to being present in personal care products, phthalates also exist in certain types of medical devices and medication that is used to treat diabetes and this could also explain the higher level of phthalates in diabetic women."

"If future studies determine causal links between phthalates and diabetes, then reducing phthalate exposure could decrease the risk of diabetes in women," the researchers write.

The Environmental Working Group compiled a table of where you're likely to find these phthalates. If you use personal care products, they're pretty hard to avoid. Phthalates are also used in adhesives, electronics and toys, reports ScienceDaily.

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