Phthalates strike againWe've been covering the impact of phthalates for years (see the links at the bottom of this piece). They are chemicals that can be found in many soft, bendy plastics that are used in all kinds of household products (shower curtains, PVC flooring, etc, and they also end up in some processed food). Part of the problem is that phthalates additives are not well bound to plastics, so they are continuously released into the air or food or liquid. That's why bendy, soft plastic tends to age badly and harden, becoming more brittle over time.
As if these chemicals weren't worrying enough already for other reasons, a new study shows that phthalates might be having an impact on the libido of women by disrupting hormone signalling (they are already known to affect sexual function in men through other hormonal interactions). To figure this out, researchers tested the urine of 360 pregnant women in their 20s and 30s to determine what concentration of phthalates was present in their bodies, and then asked them about their sex drive.
The result? The women with the highest level of phthalates were 2.5x more likely to have low libido than those with the smallest concentration. This was considered statistically significant, and hopefully with more research we can determine exactly what is going on. In the meantime:
[Dr Emily Barrett, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, in New York] recommends that women trying to get pregnant should avoid processed and fast food as the more processing that food goes through the more chance it has to come into contact with the chemicals.
This is because phthalates are endocrine disruptors, and they affect testosterone and, it now seems, estrogen.
This might be another argument in favor of organic food, as these chemicals are sometimes used in pesticides. Even better if there's no packaging!