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PCBs, Phthalates Linked to Earlier Menopause

Association with higher exposures to organic pollutants in household items, environment

THURSDAY, Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Researchers have found that menopause typically begins two to four years earlier in women with high levels of certain chemicals found in household items, personal care products, plastics, and the environment, compared to women with lower levels of the chemicals. The study was published online Jan. 28 in PLOS ONE.

Amber Cooper, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed blood and urine samples from more than 1,442 menopausal women, averaging 61 years of age, to determine their exposure to 111 endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

The investigators identified 15 chemicals — nine (now banned) polychlorinated biphenyls, three pesticides, two forms of phthalates, and the toxin furan — that were significantly associated with an earlier start of menopause and that may have harmful effects on ovarian function.

“Earlier menopause can alter the quality of a woman’s life and has profound implications for fertility, health, and our society,” Cooper said in a university news release. “Understanding how the environment affects health is complex,” she added. “This study doesn’t prove causation, but the associations raise a red flag and support the need for future research.”

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