You eat right, exercise enough and yet are obese? You could perhaps blame it on Phthalates. A new study from the University of Rochester, published in the online edition of the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, links phthalates, a common chemical found in everything from plastics to soaps, to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance in adult males.
The research adds to the growing suspicion that low-dose exposures to phthalates may be reducing testosterone levels in men, and thereby contributing to rising obesity rates and an epidemic of related disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes, said lead author Richard Stahlhut, a preventive medicine resident at the University of Rochester. The researchers found that men with the highest levels of phthalates in their urine had more belly fat and insulin resistance. Phthalates have been widely used commercially in products like cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, lotions, lubricants, paints, pesticides and plastics for more than 50 years. But it’s only recently been implicated as a possible health risk in people.
Animal studies have shown that phthalates depress testosterone levels. Recent human studies have found that phthalates are associated with poor semen quality in men and subtle changes in the reproductive organs in baby boys.