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Could chemicals in your makeup make you fat?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study hints chemicals in personal care products could contribute to obesity

New research hints at a possible link between personal care products that contain phthalates and obesity. What if your soap, nail polish and other products you use every day really were causing your waistline to expand?


The study, conducted by University of Georgia researchers, was carried out in mouse cells that the scientists exposed to the phthalate benzyl butyl phthalate, or BBP.

BPA that is found in plastics have been implicated for their ill health effects and as a potential endocrine disruptor. The researchers wanted to see what effect BBP had on fat cells.

BPA is already known to affect how fat cells develop.

Dr. Michael Gregor shares how to avoid phthalates in the video below.

Study co-author Xiaozhong “John” Yu, an assistant professor of environmental health science explained in a media release: “Obesity is one of the big issues in humans now, and of course genetic components can contribute to the development of obesity."

Yu also said there may be environmental factors that could also play a part in obesity.

Chemical exposure could lead to obesity

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The results of the experiment showed BBP acts much the same as BPA. When the scientists exposed mouse cells to the chemical they found the cells became larger, suggesting the phthalate might lead to obesity over time.

Small amounts of exposure to chemical in our environment are touted as safe. No one knows how phthalates and other potentially harmful chemicals can affect health over time.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) highlights past studies about the harmful effects of BBP that can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled. The chemical is also a potential cancer causing agent.

Phthalates in personal care products have also been linked to childhood obesity.

See: Fast food could be making you fat in a way you never expected

BBP is found in a variety of cosmetics. BPA and other phthalates were banned from toys in 2008 for safety reasons. Though the new study doesn't prove your personal care products that include makeup, nail polish, lipstick, shampoos and more could be contributing to obesity, the researchers say there is an "indication" the chemical could disrupt metabolism and contribute to obesity.


"Benzyl butyl phthalate promotes adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes: A High Content Cellomics and metabolomic analysis"
Lei Yin, Kevin Shengyang Yu1, Kun Lu, Xiaozhong Yu
Toxicology in Vitro
April, 2016