Phthalates are a commonly used group of chemicals known to pose health risks, including hormone disruption. They’re often used as additives in plastic products, nail polish, cosmetics, and food packaging. You can be exposed to phthalates through items that have come into contact with phthalate-containing materials and through the air. This article covers health risks associated with phthalates and how to reduce your exposure.
Impact on Hormones and Reproductive Health
Your body’s endocrine system regulates your hormones. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which include phthalates, can disrupt this system and impact growth, development, metabolism, reproduction, and behavior. Phthalates have been found to specifically affect reproduction hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.
In men this can lead to decreased sperm concentrations, reduced sperm motility (movement), and overall infertility. Research has even linked phthalates to testicular defects when a mother is exposed during pregnancy. In addition, maternal and paternal exposure to phthalates before conception can increase the risk of preterm birth.
In women, phthalates have also been tied to a higher infertility risk as well as pregnancy disruptions and breast tumor development.
Phthalates in Food
Food is a significant source of phthalate exposure. Some research shows that vegetarian diets are associated with lower urine phthalate levels, even after eliminating meat for a short time. Phthalates are consistently found in high concentrations in foods like dairy products and meats, especially chicken and fish.
Unfortunately consuming an all-organic diet may not decrease phthalate levels. While research is somewhat conflicting on the highest sources of phthalates in the diet, we recommend a mostly plant-based diet at Love.Life, to potentially limit phthalate exposure and minimize its risks.