A study carried out by researchers in New York shows a link exists between exposure to a common chemical used in plastic bottles and the coatings of cans and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate, often abbreviated to DEHP, has been used in plastics since the 1950s. The chemical helps to soften plastic and has therefore been used in the manufacturer of a range of plastics. The plastic is in a group of plastics called pthalates which also includes the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA).
However, research has been carried out within the last decade that shows that higher levels of exposure to the chemical can have a disruptive effect on development and endocrine hormones in the body.
The study, led by Dr Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine
monitored the dietary habits of 766 teenagers, aged between 12 and 19, between 2003 and 2008.
Within the analysis, the teenagers were split into three groups by the amount of DEHP measured in their urine. 22% of the group that with the highest level of DEHP in their urine had signs of insulin resistance. This compared with the group which had the lowest levels of DEHP, for which 15% showed signs of insulin resistance.
The research shows that the group with the highest levels of DEHP in the urine had a 50% more chance of showing signs of reduced insulin sensitivity.
The researchers note that the study shows an association but could not identify whether DEHP was leading to increased insulin-resistance or whether those teenagers who were insulin resistant were taking i, and/or excreting through the urine, more DEHP.
Whilst the root cause of insulin resistance cannot be identified in this study, it suggests that either the packaging or the food within the packaging itself appears to be linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study does back up the evidence suggesting that those looking to reduce their own risk of developing diabetes, or that of their children, may wish to consider reducing reliance on packaged foods and drinks.
The study, ‘Urinary Phthalates and Increased Insulin Resistance in Adolescents’ is published in the journal Pediatrics.

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