A new study has found that women who had high levels of certain chemicals in
their bodies experienced menopause two to four years earlier than women with
lower levels of the chemicals.
According to a news release, the study from Washington University School of Medicine is the first to broadly explore the association between menopause and individual chemicals on a large scale. Scientists analysed blood and urine levels of 111 chemicals that are suspected of interfering with natural hormone production and distribution.
Senior author Dr. Amber Cooper, 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 suggest we as a society should be concerned."
None of the menopausal women included in the data used estrogen-replacement therapies or had ovary-removal surgery. All had been tested for levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Researchers said that they analyzed the women's blood and urine samples for exposures to 111 mostly man-made chemicals, including known reproductive toxins and those that take more than a year to break down. "These chemicals included phthalates, which are found in plastics, common household items, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products; phytoestrogens, plant-derived estrogens; and dioxins/furans, industrial combustion byproducts," they added.
To avoid chemical exposure, scientists recommend microwaving food in glass or paper containers rather than in plastic. According to them, it is also important to study ingredients in cosmetics, personal care products, and food packaging that are used daily.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.