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Chemical in plastics and personal care products linked to heart disease

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

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Exposure to chemicals called phthalates, found in commonly used plastics, may be linked to a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, a new study finds.

Sometimes referred to as plasticizers, phthalates make vinyl plastics soft and flexible. They are widely used in industrial food processing, medical devices, and vinyl building products, and also found in personal care products such as shampoos and lotions.

The study included 5,303 adults (median age 57) who took part in a national health survey and provided urine samples, which were used to measure their phthalate exposure. Researchers then tracked causes of death among the participants over the following decade. After controlling for possible confounding factors, they found that phthalate exposure was associated with a slightly higher risk of dying of any cause, but especially cardiovascular disease.

Earlier research suggested that exposure to phthalates, which are known to interfere with the actions of human hormones, may be linked to obesity and diabetes risk. But the specific biological connection to these potential health issues and heart disease remains unclear and needs further study. The report was published online Oct. 12, 2021, by the journal Environmental Pollution.


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