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For years, agenda-driven activists have attempted to link phthalates to every conceivable ailment. And now, a new study twists and turns to try to link this class of chemicals which are present in a wide variety of common products ranging from plastics to cosmetics with a disease that afflicts many Americans: diabetes. The authors own interpretation of this questionable study indicates that exposure to phthalates increases older Americans risk of developing diabetes.

In the report appearing in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden analyzed data from an existing study, which included over 1,000 adults with an average age of 70. The researchers assessed the participants for levels of fasting blood sugar and measures of insulin, as well as levels of certain phthalate byproducts found in the blood.

The study results showed that patients who had higher levels of certain phthalate-related chemicals in the blood were more likely to have diabetes, even when the figures were adjusted for other diabetes risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, blood lipids, and exercise. Levels of some phthalate metabolites were found to correlate with a higher risk of diabetes, while others were not.

While the media is using this study as another opportunity to generate frightening headlines about everyday products, ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross notes that "this study does not even rise to the level of junk. It violates every precept of what a trained scientific researcher would regard as basic epidemiological practices," he says. "The re-evaluation of older data immediately invalidates the claims as pure data-dredging': working backward from a desired end-point to fit the data in that you have.

Furthermore, as ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan adds, There is no biological mechanism to explain such an effect. The putative mechanism, something called PPAR activity, is very powerful indeed in rodents, but not so in humans. Moreover, even viewed in the best possible light, the outcomes did not comport with statistical significance, except for the barest adherence in three of the sought-for outcomes.