People who eat fast food may have higher levels of potentially infertility-causing industrial chemicals in their body, according to a new study. Bloomberg reports researchers were looking specifically at DEHP and DiNP, two types of phthalates found in everything from cosmetics to window blinds. They studied nutrition data from nearly 9,000 people and found those who got more than 35% of their total energy intake from fast food in the previous 24 hours had DEHP and DiNP levels 24% and 39% higher respectively. Phthalates may be entering fast food products through packaging, gloves worn by workers, or machinery used to process the food. Meat and grain products from fast-food restaurants were shown to be the most associated with higher phthalate levels in diners, according to a press release.
"Our findings raise concerns because phthalates have been linked to a number of serious health problems in children and adults," researcher Ami Zota says in the press release. Previous studies show those problems include possible damage to the male reproductive system. While the American Chemistry Council says phthalates aren't harmful, the EPA is concerned about them, Japan has banned them in food-prep gloves, the EU has limited their use in food, and a 2008 US law restricted them in children's toys. Further studies are needed to see if phthalates in fast food are responsible for any health problems. But Zota has some solid advice either way: "People concerned about this issue can't go wrong by eating more fruits and vegetables and less fast food." (Phthalates in mom's nail polish could lower baby's IQ.)