Few women experience menopause two to four years earlier whose bodies have high levels of chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products and common household items, according to a study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Researchers looked at blood and urine levels of 111 chemicals, which included known reproductive toxins and/or those that take more than a year to break down and are suspected of interfering with the natural production and distribution of hormones in the body. Following chemicals were analyzed in the survey- dioxins/furans (industrial combustion byproducts), phthalates (found in plastics, common household items, pharmaceuticals and personal-care products including lotions, perfumes, makeup, nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray), phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, coolants), phenolic derivatives (phenols, industrial pollutants), organophosphate pesticides, surfactants, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (combustion products).
Senior author Amber Cooper, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said, "Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggested that 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."
The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.