Home Science/Health Exposure to 3 kinds of chemicals likely to derail puberty

Exposure to 3 kinds of chemicals likely to derail puberty


Washington : Exposure to three common chemical classes – phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens – in young girls may disrupt the timing of pubertal development, and put girls at risk for health complications later in life.

“Research has shown that early pubertal development in girls can have adverse social and medical effects, including cancer and diabetes later in life,” said Mary Wolff, professor of preventive medicine and oncological sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“Our research shows a connection between chemicals that girls are exposed to on a daily basis and either delayed or early development,” added Wolff.

Phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens are among chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, which interfere with the body’s endocrine, or hormone, system.

They are found in a wide range of consumer products, such as nail polishes, where they increase durability, and in cosmetics, perfumes, lotions, and shampoos, where they carry fragrance.

Some are used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastics such as PVC, or are included as coatings on medications or nutritional supplements to make them timed-release.

Wolff, co-principal investigator Susan Teitelbaum, associate professor, preventive medicine, and their team from Mount Sinai’s departments of paediatrics and microbiology recruited girls from the neighbourhood of East Harlem, a unique minority population considered high risk.

Working with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Northern California, they analysed the impact of exposure to environmental agents in a study that included 1,151 girls from New York, greater Cincinnati and northern California.

The girls were aged between six and eight-year-old at enrollment and between seven and nine at analysis. Researchers collected urine samples from the study participants and analysed them for phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens, including 19 separate urine biomarkers.

The data showed that the three classes of chemical compounds were widely detectable in the study population, and that high exposure to certain chemicals was associated with early breast development, said a Mount Sinai release.

The data was published on Environmental Health Perspectives online.