early puberty

  1. Cosmetic chemical linked to diabetes risk

    Your perfume is giving you diabetes

    Most people don't need any help getting diabetes -- it's a condition you can get easily enough on your own.

    But you could be getting a big boost anyway, and not from your diet alone.

    Phthalates are chemicals found all over the home. But since they're especially common in cosmetics and perfumes, women get some of the highest levels of exposure -- and they face some of the highest risks as a result.

    Now, a new study of 2,350 women finds that those with the highest levels of two common phthalates -- mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate -- have almost double the risk of diabetes when compared to women with the lowest levels.

    But you don't need high levels of exposure to face high risks.

    Women who simply have above-average levels of another phthalate, called mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate, have a 60 percent higher risk of diabetes than those with lower levels.

    And women with moderately high levels of mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate have a 70 percent increase in risk, according to the data in Environmental Health Perspectives.

    Don't waste your time trying to remember all those chemical names. Just remember that phthalates as a class are known endocrine disrupters linked to a long and growing list of serious health problems. So far, studies have linked them to cancer, weight gain, thyroid problems, and more.

    And since they mimic estrogen inside the body, they can feminize men, cause breast growth in boys, and early puberty in girls.

    They've also been linked to asthma, and another new study makes the connection again in children, finding that kids with the highest levels of these chemicals have higher levels of inflammation in the airways.

    Clearly, it's important to keep these chemicals away from everyone in your family -- especially the youngest members of your household.

    But it's getting harder than ever to accomplish that.

    Like I said earlier, they're all over your home -- in your cosmetics, shampoo, and even your flooring. Until recently, they were in children's toys. And one recent study even found high levels of them in new backpacks and lunchboxes featuring popular children's characters.

    Cutting your exposure is going to take some doing -- but I'd say it's worth the effort.

    One easy place for women to start: Replace chemical perfumes with essential oils.

  2. Canned soups cause dramatic BPA surge

    Soup is good food? Not if it comes from a can!

    I'm sure you already know all about the preservatives, artificial flavors, and just plain low-quality ingredients that fill each can of soup. But believe it or not, that's not even the worst of it.

    Soup cans -- as well as the cans of other foods -- are lined with an estrogen-like chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) to help prevent rust and keep your canned goods from having too much of that metallic taste.

    But this chemical doesn't just sit there in the can lining -- it breaks free and leeches out into the soup. And that means you're getting a secret burst of hormones with every spoonful.

    Now there's something you don't see advertised on the label.

    The latest research finds that all it takes is a can a day for five straight days to give yourself a dramatic surge in BPA levels. So if you're the type who likes to nuke some soup for lunch, you might want to pick a new habit.

    Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health divided 75 volunteers into two groups: One ate a 12-ounce serving of vegetarian canned soup every day for five days... while the others ate freshly made vegetable soup.

    After a two-day "washout" period, the two groups switched places.

    In both cases, urine tests found an average increase in BPA levels of 1,221 percent after five days of canned soup. The researchers say they suspect those levels might be temporary -- but temporary or not, do you really want all those extra hormones surging through your body?

    Of course you don't -- because despite chemical industry claims to the contrary, BPA is unsafe for human consumption.

    It's already been linked to diabetes, heart disease and sexual dysfunction in adults -- while in kids, it's been linked to early puberty and behavioral problems. And that's only what we know so far. It seems like every few weeks, another study finds yet another way this chemical can wreck your body.

    None of this should scare you away from soups and stews, which are perfect winter meals. Just learn to make them yourself -- you might be surprised at how easy it is.

    One recent study found that making the switch to freshly made foods -- and ditching anything stored in BPA-lined cans and containers -- slashed BPA levels by 60 percent in just three days.

    Find out how to get started here.

  3. Plastics chemicals linked to developmental problems

    It's easy to protect your children from what you can see -- but it's a much bigger challenge to keep them safe from what you can't.

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