Increased urinary levels of endocrine-disrupting phthalates, found in flexible plastic and some personal-care products, are associated with significant declines in testosterone levels not just in men, but in women and children as well, according to research published online August 14 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
"We found associations between markers of phthalate exposure and testosterone levels among multiple age groups and in both sexes, including children — 6- to 12-year-old boys and girls, and girls ages 12 to 20," lead author John D. Meeker, ScD, CIH, told Medscape Medical News.
"The novel findings presented here for reduced testosterone among women may be of high public-health significance, because androgen deficiency among women may impair sexual function, libido, energy, cognitive functions, bone density, cardiovascular function, and overall well-being," they write.
Dr. Meeker said it is not easy to fully understand the clinical implications of the work, however. "Because our study was conducted on the population level, it is difficult to interpret how our findings might affect the individual, and some individuals may be more susceptible than others," he said.
"Things are also complicated by the fact that most products that contain phthalates aren't labeled as such, making it very difficult for clinicians to be able to make sound recommendations for patients to avoid or reduce exposure."
Where Are Phthalates?
2. Cosmetic Products
3. Household Products
4. Medical and Personal-Care Products
5 Ways to Avoid Phthalate Exposure
1. Avoid Foods Stored in Plastic
2. Use Homemade Hair and Skin Care Products
3. Use Glass Containers
4. Look for DEP-Free Products
5. Cleanse Your Body