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International Healthcare News: Phthalates 'may increase diabetes risk'

Women might wish to be cautious in their use of personal care products, as a study has shown these could increase their risk of having to fund diabetes treatment through expatriate medical insurance policies.

The investigation, which was led by scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), revealed a correlation between the concentration of phthalates in a female's body and their likelihood of becoming diabetic.

Perfumes, hair sprays, soaps, nail polishes and moisturisers commonly contain phthalates.

Further sources of these substances include toys, electronics, adhesives and a number of other consumer goods.

The research, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, pointed out these chemicals can cause disruption to a human's endocrine system.

Women with higher levels of mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate in their body were revealed to be around 60 per cent more likely to develop diabetes than the median female, while those with the greatest levels of mono-isobutyl phthalate and mono-benzyl phthalate had almost twice the risk of developing the condition than those with the lowest amounts of these chemicals.

Furthermore, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate and mono-n-butyl phthalate in moderate levels were found to increase a woman's likelihood of suffering from diabetes by around 70 per cent.

International healthcare specialists analysed the concentration of phthalates in the urine of 2,350 females who took part in the US' National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Controls were put on subjects regarding behavioural, dietary and socio-demographic factors, although diabetes was self-reported by participants.

Researchers cautioned against members of the public reading too much into the research, pointing out reverse causation is a possibility.

"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," lead researcher Tamarra James-Todd of BWH's Division of Women's Health said.

Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to convert glucose into energy properly.

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