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Can Make-Up Use Prompt Early Menopause?
Premature menopause is a risk for women exposed to higher levels of phthalates — chemicals often found in make-up and aerosols.
By Brett Spiegel
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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24, 2012— Mascara and moisturizer and menopause — Oh, my! Chemicals — specifically phthalates — present in cosmetics could be pushing women into premature menopause, report researchers from Washington University in St Louis.
Phthalates, which are found in make-up and aerosols like hairspray, are already under fire for their potential role in increased risks for cancer, diabetes, obesity, and brain feminization in young boys. Now, scientists are concerned that they may also have a hand in interfering with the female reproductive system, in particular with ovarian function.
"Early menopause has a lot of impact on your health. We absolutely think these chemicals have the potential to affect ovarian function and human reproduction," said Natalia Grindler, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Washington University's School of Medicine and one of the authors of the study, at this week's American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference in San Diego.
Researchers looked at phthalate levels in 5,700 women. Study subjects with the highest phthalate levels in their blood and urine experienced menopause, on average, 2.3 years prior to others. Some women even stopped menstruating 15 years earlier than average.
Elevated rates of stroke, heart disease, bone problems, and brain hemorrhages are all connected to premature menopause.
It remains unclear why certain women experience greater exposure to phthalates, but Dr. Grindler speculated that it's due to higher than average use of make-up or consumption of packaged food and bottled water. Phthalates can also be found in plastics, household products, and food packaging. "There’s a lot that we don’t know at this point, our research is still preliminary, but it’s enough to suggest it is having a detrimental impact in the long term," added Grindler.
Some experts have said there is little cause for alarm regarding phthalate use. "My concern is not high at this stage.
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