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"This study should bother us all": the chemical that also reached our ovaries - Walla! health


Phthalates are synthetic chemicals found in many everyday products. Israeli researchers warn: Their presence within the ovaries should concern us all. For details >>>

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"This study should bother us all": the chemical that also reached our ovaries

For several years now, phthalates - dangerous chemicals found in various plastic and care products, have been marked as a possible cause of the general decline in fertility around the world.

Now Israeli researchers have discovered that they also got into the ovaries.

What it means?


  • Phthalates

  • fertility

  • Male fertility

  • Fertility treatments

  • IVF

  • Eggs

  • Women's health

Omar Yerushalmi, Angle

Sunday, 01 August 2021, 07:22 Updated: 07:29

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In recent years, an alarming phenomenon of a significant decrease in fertility has been observed throughout the Western world, and about 15 percent of all couples are unable to reach a spontaneous pregnancy. The reasons for this are varied, and include, among other things, exposure to a wide range of chemicals from various sources, which disrupt the hormonal activity in the body. A new and groundbreaking Israeli study has found that one group of such chemicals - the phthalates, which are around us at all times in plastic, cosmetics and other consumer products, until it is almost impossible to avoid them completely - have found their way into human ovaries.

Phthalates are a family of synthetic chemicals developed in the last century for use in the plastics manufacturing industries (mainly for softening and increasing flexibility), solvents and care products, and are therefore found in a wide range of products we use daily, such as plastic packaging (including food packaging), products Cosmetics, building materials, cleaning products, pesticides, fragrance products, children's toys, paints and coatings, medical devices and textiles.

In fact, phthalates are so common that they have been dubbed "The Everywhere Chemical".

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Studies have shown that phthalates cause a variety of hormonal disorders.

Illustration of the female reproductive system (Photo: ShutterStock)

Phthalates are considered endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) - substances that mimic or inhibit the activity of various hormones in the human body, thus disrupting the normal hormonal activity in the body and impairing, among other things, male and female fertility.

Over the years, scientific evidence has accumulated that phthalates have a variety of adverse effects on the health of us all: ranging from experiments in laboratory animals where they have been found to cause a variety of hormonal disorders (impaired male reproductive system, congenital malformations, lower testosterone levels in puberty). Premature sexual maturation in females and low sperm count in adults) as well as low birth weight and preterm birth, and up to a number of similar effects found in humans in recent years, such as association with male developmental disorders, brain development and increased risk of developing learning disorders, attention and behavior. Babies.

As a result, various doctors and experts in the field have called for a total ban on the incorporation of phthalates in consumer products - and in particular in cosmetics and toys, to which pregnant women and children are exposed.

The negative effect of phthalates on fertility

In recent years, knowledge has been accumulating about the negative effect of phthalates on female fertility.

In a previous study conducted in 2017 at Sheba Hospital, by researchers some of whom also conducted the current study, which involved 136 women who underwent IVF, the presence of 17 different metabolites of phthalates (phthalates that have undergone a certain breakdown in the body) in the urine of The subjects - and it was found that the amount of eggs that matured as part of the preparatory treatment for fertilization as well as the amount of eggs that were successfully fertilized and the healthy embryos created by artificial insemination were lower as the concentration of three phthalates in the urine of the women tested was higher.

The more evidence there was for the presence of phthalates in the ovaries, the worse the results of fertilization.

In vitro fertilization (Photo: ShutterStock)

In the new study, recently published in the scientific journal Human Reproduction, the researchers tried to understand exactly how phthalates affect female fertility. The study is an international collaboration of researchers from Sheba Medical Center, Ruppin Academic Center and Harvard and Columbia Universities in the United States, and was led by Prof. Ronit Mechtinger, Senior Physician in the IVF Unit at Sheba Medical Center, and Dr. Zohar Brent-Yitzhaki of the Faculty And from the Center for Health Information Research at the Ruppin Academic Center.

The researchers looked for evidence of the presence of phthalates in follicular fluids - fluids that surround the egg when it is inside the follicle in the ovary, before ovulation.

They relied on samples collected from 105 women during in vitro fertilization procedures in Sheba.

The results were not encouraging: Of the 12 different types of phthalate metabolites tested, 11 were found in at least one sample.

In the follicular fluid of no less than 76 percent of the women, 7 different types of phthalate metabolites were found simultaneously, and in 5 of the subjects, no less than 10 different phthalate metabolites were found.

Only 2 of the subjects did not find any phthalate metabolites in the follicular fluids.

"Synthetic chemical in the most sensitive place"

"The findings of the study are supposed to bother us all," says Brent-Yitzhaki.

"A man-made chemical is found in one of the most sensitive places on the body."

According to him, the situation should be completely reversed.

"The area around the egg must be as clean as possible so that humanity can continue to reproduce properly and not become extinct - and in this study we find phthalates that are known to affect egg maturation processes and female fertility. This is a very significant first finding."

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The phthalates come from the plastic and cosmetics to the bloodstream.

Mascara (Photo: ShutterStock)

How do phthalates reach the depths of the female reproductive system?

"Phthalates from the many consumer products (for example cosmetics) to which we are exposed penetrate the body through consumer products, through food, through drinking, or through the air we breathe - phthalates are in the air and also in the dust," explains Brent-Yitzhaki.

"Previous studies have found phthalates in the blood, and it is hypothesized that they are transmitted through the bloodstream to various organs and areas in the body - including the ovaries."

A crucial role in egg development

According to the study, phthalates may affect fertility through their effect on microRNAs, molecules used to control gene expression in cells, which are found in the follicular fluid. Says Brent-Yitzhaki. The

researchers isolated the micro-RNA from the follicular fluids.

"In statistical calculations we made, we found that there is a relationship between the invention of certain phthalates in the follicular fluid and the levels of different micro-RNA molecules in the molecular fluid and the genes they control," says Brent-Yitzhaki. Miscellaneous, which visit a total of 304 genes associated with female fertility (e.g. ovary and ovarian development, egg maturation).

"Thus, environmental exposure to chemicals may harm biological pathways associated with female fertility."

One dangerous group out of many

"I hope the research findings will help reduce the production of phthalates in the industry, stimulate the regulators who oversee the industry and raise public awareness of the issue," says Brent-Yitzhaki. Today, various experts in the field of health and the environment are calling for steps to be taken to tighten regulation in this area and to increase enforcement of existing standards. In the meantime, it is advisable to minimize exposure to phthalates, especially in women of childbearing age and in pregnancy, children and infants. You should reduce the use of products with phthalates as much as possible: for example, do not order cosmetics and toys from sites that have no supervision or control, but buy products that meet European or American standards (such as those sold in Israel), do not regularly consume hot food from plastic containers or containers Cheap disposables made of plastic and remove makeup as soon as it is no longer needed.

"However, it is important to note that phthalates are just one group of chemicals. There are other groups of chemicals to which we are exposed and that may affect our health - so this is a significant and disturbing discovery, but there are many other things that are important to investigate," Brent-Yitzhaki concludes.

The article was prepared by Zavit - the news agency of the Israeli Association of Ecology and Environmental Sciences

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Source: walla

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