Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have discovered 15 chemicals found in plastics and cosmetics that are significantly associated with earlier menopause and declines in ovarian function. It was seen that women whose bodies contained high levels of these chemicals experienced menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower amounts of chemical exposure.
Researchers analyzed 1,442 menopausal women, whose average age was 61, and who were not taking estrogen-replacement therapies, nor had they undergone surgery to remove their ovaries. They examined the women's blood and urine for signs of 111 chemicals that are suspected of interfering with the natural production and distribution of hormones in the body.
They found 15 chemicals, including nine polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), three pesticides, two phthalates (which are typically found in plastics, common household items, pharmaceuticals, lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray), and a toxic chemical known as a furan that were significantly associated with earlier menopause and declines in ovarian function.
Senior author Amber Cooper said, "Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggest we as a society should be concerned. Many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air. But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use."
Cooper recommended people to use glass or paper containers when microwaving food, and minimize their exposure to harmful chemicals in the cosmetics and personal care products they choose.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.