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Certain hygiene products can promote early puberty in girls
Scientists have long suspected that the phthalates, parabens and phenols found in soaps, shampoos and other hygiene products have a negative effect on the balance of sex hormones. New research has confirmed these assumptions.
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A new American study says certain types of soaps, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal care products can increase the risk of certain cancers in adolescent girls and are also associated with accelerated puberty.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that chemicals like phthalates, parabens and phenols are linked to earlier puberty in girls. The research results were published in the journal Human Reproduction.
Parabens are used as preservatives and phenols are used to prolong the effect of personal care products. Phthalates are used in cosmetics, nail varnishes and perfumes to improve the appearance of the substance. Some evidence indicates that these chemicals are endocrine disruptors. Experts argue that in adolescents, this can lead to premature reproductive maturation, which is determined by signs of puberty, in particular menstruation in girls between the ages of 8 and 11.
These chemicals act on female sex hormones not only during their direct use, they begin to affect health when mothers use these products during pregnancy.
“We know that girls start puberty earlier in recent decades, and one of the hypotheses explaining this phenomenon was that environmental chemicals play a role. Now our results support this idea. Premature puberty in girls increases the risk of mental health problems and risk behaviors during adolescence, and in the long term also increases the chances of developing breast and ovarian cancers,”said Dr. Kim Harley, lead author of this study.
Researchers followed 179 girls and 159 boys from birth to adolescence, taking urine samples from them at a certain age to measure the level of phthalates, parabens and phenols. Before that, researchers also collected tests from the pregnant mothers of these children.
More than 90% of urine samples contained substances that negatively affect the endocrine system. Among those whose phthalate concentration was doubled were girls whose pubic hair began to grow on average 1.3 months earlier than usual. In addition, certain phenols contributed to the first menstrual period a month earlier.
Parabens appear to have the greatest effect on the body, with the result that girls begin to grow breasts, pubic hair and have their first menstrual period about a month earlier. In boys, no association was observed between puberty and the use of these substances.