Early Menopause Caused by Plastics and Cosmetics?

Early Menopause Caused by Plastics and Cosmetics?

A new study found that certain chemicals in plastic and some cosmetics are linked to earlier menopause, causing menopause to appear  2-4 years sooner than women who had lower levels of the substances.

Because the study in the journal PLOS ONE only associated the chemicals from plastic and certain cosmetics with early menopause, it only shows and association and doesn’t absolutely prove it. But it does strengthen other studies that had similar findings.

Why it matters

These chemicals are found in commonly used items such as some water bottles and other plastics associated with food and cosmetics often used by women. These items could potentially lead to early menopause and shorten the window for having a child at a time when women are tending to wait longer to have their kids. That feeling was shared by the senior author of the study, Amber Cooper, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine.

The authors studied a nationally representative sample of 1,442 menopausal women, whose average age was 61 and who were neither taking estrogen nor had their ovaries removed by surgery. The women’s blood and urine were sampled to identify levels of  111 chemicals that are believed to interfere with natural hormone production.

The study identified 15 chemicals that had a strong connection with diminishing ovarian function and with earlier menopause.

The Culprits are Known Hormone Disruptors

The chemicals found included some well-known hormone disruptors that should cause alarm. Nine were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), three were pesticides, and two were phthalates – commonly found in plastics, common household items, pharmaceuticals, lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray. A tenth item was a toxic chemical identified as a furan that is under further observation for its impact.

I’ve written in other posts that earlier menopause is associated with a higher risk for heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis or thinning of the bones.

It’s impossible to avoid all chemicals, but the more you know, the more you can avoid. Some ways to limit exposure is to substitute paper for plastic containers when you microwave, drink from glass or paper rather than plastic bottles, eat organic, and know the contents of the cosmetics and personal care products you buy.

12 Most Common Ingredients to Avoid

Here is a list of the so called “Dirty Dozen” cosmetic ingredients to avoid (compiled by David Suzuki Foundation)

1. BHA and BHT

Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives.

2. Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colors listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number. Look for them in hair dyes, etc. May also be listed as FD&C Blue No, 1 or Blue 1

3. DEA-related ingredients, MEA and TEA (not the tea you drink)

Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos.

4. Dibutyl phthalate

Used in some nail care products.

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

Used in a variety of cosmetics and slowly release small quantities of formaldehyde – the stuff used to embalm people .Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15.

6. Parabens

Preservative used in cosmetics.

7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)

Any mixture of fragrance ingredients — even in some products marketed as “unscented.”

8. PEG compounds

Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Look for ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).

9. Petrolatum

Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers.

10. Siloxanes

Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.”

11. Sodium laureth sulfate

Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath.

12. Triclosan

Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants.


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