Daily exposure to phthalates, a group of chemicals used in everything from plastic containers to makeup, may lead to approximately 100,000 deaths in older Americans annually.
The chemicals, which can be found in hundreds of products such as toys, clothing, and shampoo, have been known for decades to be “hormone disruptors”, affecting a person’s endocrine system.
The toxins can enter the body through such items and are linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The research was carried out by New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. It includes some 5,000 adults aged 55 to 64, shows that those with higher concentrations of phthalates in their urine were more likely to die of heart disease.
However, higher concentrations did not appear to increase the risk of death by cancer. The study does not establish a direct cause and effect relationship between phthalate exposure and death, in part because the specific biological mechanisms of that relationship are unclear.
Other studies have already linked phthalates to more than 10,000 deaths per year associated with reduced testosterone levels in adult men. The study added that the economic loss due to phthalates is between $40 billion and $47 billion – more than four times what was previously estimated.
This study was published in the journal Environmental Pollution.