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Chemicals in plastic linked to chronic diseases in men

IANS | Canberra |

Potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday plastic have been linked to the prevalence of chronic diseases in men, Australian researchers said on Thursday.

Scientists from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute tested more than 1,500 men for the presence of potentially chemicals known as phthalates, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes, reports Xinhua news agency.

Of the men tested, phthalates were detected in urine samples of nearly every (99.6 per cent) of those aged 35 years and older, which according to associate professor Zumin Shi from the University of Adelaide was due to consuming foods contained in plastics.

"We found that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure increased among those men with higher total phthalate levels," Shi said in a statement on Thursday.

"While we still don't understand the exact reasons why phthalates are independently linked to disease, we do know the chemicals impact on the human endocrine system, which controls hormone release that regulate the body's growth, metabolism, and sexual development and function."

Shi said that it was typical that Westerners had higher levels of phthalates because many foods are now packaged in plastic. 

He said previous studies had shown that those who drank soft drinks and ate pre-packaged foods had significantly higher phthalate levels in their urine compared to those who ate healthier.