Personal care products cause girls to enter puberty earlier

Personal care products cause girls to enter puberty earlier

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Can soaps and shampoos affect puberty?

Many adolescents now reach puberty earlier than was the case a few years ago. Then doctors and experts asked themselves what triggered such an early puberty. Researchers have now found that some common soaps, shampoos, and other personal care products in adolescent girls can contribute to an earlier onset of puberty.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley found in their current study that some soaps and other personal care products may be the reason why girls are getting to puberty earlier and earlier. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Human Reproduction".

What do phthalates, parabens and phenols do?

Certain chemicals, known as phthalates, parabens, and phenols, appear to affect puberty in young girls. Some common soaps, shampoos and other personal care products contain these substances. Affected products increase the risk of certain types of cancer and other developmental problems, and they can also cause girls to enter puberty earlier, the experts report.

What are such chemicals used for?

Parabens are used in preservation products and phenols are included in personal care products for durability. Phthalates are used in beauty products such as cosmetics, nail polishes and perfumes to improve the appearance of the substance. These chemicals are believed to be so-called endocrine disruptors because they can affect the body's natural hormone regulation. This can result in advanced reproductive maturation in adolescents. This causes signs of puberty to appear earlier in girls. Menstruation begins in such girls, for example, between the ages of eight and eleven.

Chemicals harm the child in the womb

The effects of these chemicals on female reproductive hormones are not limited to direct users, but also harm female infants whose mothers used these products during pregnancy. It is important to understand these effects because it is already known that the age at which puberty begins in girls has decreased in recent decades. A hypothesis says that chemicals could play a role in the environment, and the latest findings support this idea, the doctors say. Previous puberty in girls increases the risk of mental health problems and behavior as a teenager. It also increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in the long term, explains study author Professor Dr. Kim Harley from the University of California, Berkeley.

Over 90 percent of the samples taken contained endocrine disruptors

The researchers medically monitored 179 girls and 159 boys from birth to puberty. Doctors took urine samples to measure the levels of phthalates, parabens and phenols. They also took samples from the pregnant mothers even before the children were born. Over 90 percent of the samples contained these endocrine disruptors. Samples that showed twice the concentration of phthalates belonged to girls who had pubic hair much earlier than is typical for girls. Certain phenols caused the first menstruation to start earlier than one month. Parabens seemed to have the most serious effects, causing girls to develop breasts, pubic hair, and their first menstrual period about a month earlier.

No similar effects were observed in boys. Phthalates, parabens and phenols were found in 96 percent of the women in the study. This clearly shows that it is not easy to avoid contact with these chemicals. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Early Menarche. Dr. Aruna Muralidhar (May 2022).