Uterine Fibroids Brought About By Common Personal and Household Items
Chemicals called phthalates have been classified as dangerous. Unfortunately, these are found in common household items such as soaps, shampoos, hairsprays, and other consumer goods.
When constantly exposed to these, it can cause uterine fibroids. A new study has seen the long term effects, and while avoiding phthalate exposure altogether is difficult, there are some precautions that you need to take in order to lower the risk.
People are constantly exposed to chemicals that are in numerous household products such as the many brands of soaps and shampoos in the market. This has been linked with a greater risk of uterine fibroids. Now, a new study has been made and this shows evidence that these chemicals called phthalates can actually and directly cause fibroids.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), phthalates have oftentimes been used in consumer and industrial products. Its main purpose is to make plastics more long-lasting as well as help other materials dissolve. Unfortunately, these can also wreak havoc in the endocrine system, the part that is responsible for hormone regulation. Previous studies have associated phthalate exposure to a higher risk of neurological problems in children, asthma, early puberty, pregnancy complications such as preterm birth, infertility, endometriosis, and fibroids.
“These toxic pollutants are everywhere, including food packaging, hair and makeup products, and more, and their usage is not banned,” said Serdar Bulun, MD. He is the chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. He released a statement recently regarding this.
Dr. Bulun is also the senior author of the study, which was published today in PNAS. “These are more than simply environmental pollutants. They can cause specific harm to human tissues.”
Uterine fibroids are very common. In fact, around four out of five women will develop these at some point, according to the Mayo Clinic. Many times, they won’t feel the symptoms. However, the number and the size of these fibroids may differ, which means that they bring in a range of symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, unusually long periods, pelvic pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation, backaches, and leg pain. As for the more serious ones, these bring about infertility, miscarriages, uncontrolled or excessive uterine bleeding, and large tumors that oftentimes need invasive surgeries.
In order to establish the link between phthalate exposure and fibroids, scientists exposed uterine tissue samples in a lab. They did this with several different compounds formed as the body breaks down the many kinds of phthalates.
The researchers discovered a solid link between symptomatic uterine fibroids and what’s known as di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), which is most of the time used in catheter tubing and other medical devices. It also has been used for several consumer products such as shower curtains, car upholstery, lunch boxes, and shoes.
In the tests conducted, scientists discovered that DEHP activates a hormonal pathway. This, in turn, starts a chain reaction inside cells that make it easier for fibroid tissue to grow, particularly in the uterine lining. The reaction that they observed involved some of the same cellular processes linked to an agent orange exposure during the Vietnam War, which is a toxin that caused reproductive abnormalities for those exposed to it, according to Bulun.
DEHP is actually the most commonly available phthalate, and this has been true for years. Manufacturers use these for food packaging and medical supplies even when there had been proof that connects this chemical to several health issues. DEHP can be gradually released from products into indoor environments. This means that homes, schools, day care centers, offices, and cars have these in the surrounding air. It has also been known to stay on surfaces and floors as it accumulates dust and air.
While avoiding exposure to phthalates isn’t always possible, there are some steps you can take for precaution as this can lower your risk. This was per the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
The following steps can be taken:
- For elective medical procedures, they need to request devices and equipment free of DEHP. Included here are intravenous solution bags, tubing for dialysis, feeding tubes, oxygen masks, and surgical gloves.
- Be sure to constantly wash your hands before you prepare food and before you eat.
- Use a wet mop or vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter when you clean your homes.
- Use a damp cloth when wiping surfaces.