Plastic cups may cause early puberty: study
A research team from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has found that using plastic cups, bowls and bags to consume hot foods or beverages could lead to early puberty in girls and boys taking on feminine traits.
Lee Ching-chang, a professor in NCKU’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, said that in its three-year study, the team studied 71 sexually precocious girls aged 2-8.
The factors leading to sexual precocity could include genes, obesity, diet, pressure, sexual contacts and especially environmental factors, which are mainly linked to plasticizers and environmental hormones.
The study found that the plastic’s exposure to hot substances increased the level of plasticizers that melt into the item being consumed, Lee said.
The girls in the study showed no signs of illness but had developed breasts, and a common link was their exposure to environmental factors.
“Most of the girls drink tea beverages or hot soy bean milk in plastic cups almost daily,” Lee said.
One girl in the study even slept in the same room with her parents that was filled with all kinds of aromatic perfumes, even though plasticizers are a common additive in the perfumes, he said.
Foreign studies have indicated that the ingestion of plasticizers increases the risk of boys becoming feminine and girls becoming sexually precocious, with the situation in girls especially serious.
Most of the plasticizers found in children’s bodies come from food they consume, and hot food in plastic cups, bowls or bags risks increasing the rate of plasticizers melting into food by two or three times.
Lee noted that fragrant essential oils depend on large amount of fixers to stabilize the fragrance, and the fixers are plasticizers.
“The more fragrant the aroma, the more plasticizer is in it,” said Lee, noting that perfumes, shampoos, creams, or anything that is fragrant use such ingredients, and they are all inhaled into the body.
He also reminded the public that plastic surrounding electric cords will start releasing plasticizers at around 38 degrees Celsius, and advised people to unplug them when not in use.
Lee said plasticizers in the air could become attached to particles and fall onto the floor, and young children could let them into their systems if they sucked their fingers after crawling on the floor.
He also urged washing one’s hands frequently and using less shampoo and shower gel to reduce risks.