Study Says Fast-Food Eaters Exposed To More Chemicals

Apr 14, 2016 05:46 AM EDT | By Mark Jason Alcala

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A recent study discovered that eating fast food significantly raises phthalate exposure.
(Photo : Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Aside from being a convenient, quick and delicious way of meeting hunger, fast-food may also be the quickest way to introduce a potentially dangerous chemical to the body. A recent study show that people who ate fast food for the past 24 hours had elevated levels of the chemical phthalates.

Using data obtained from almost 9,000 participants in federal nutritional surveys, George Washington University researchers was able to detect a type of phthalates among those who had eaten a fast food withing 24 hours. Based on the urine samples provided by the participants, researchers was able to detect the fast-food eaters had nearly 40 percent more DiNP, a type of phthalate, in their urine, reports StatNews. This implies that fast food is a significant route for this industrial chemical to enter the human body.

Phthalates, also known as plasticizers, are chemicals that are introduced into platics to make them flexible and harder to break. Some variants of phthalates are also used to dissolving other materials. They may be found in inflatable toys, medical tubing, plastic packaging film, hoses, soaps, shampoos, nail polish, adhesives, detergents, plastics used in automobiles and even in vinyl flooring according to CDC.

The exact health effects of phthalates in humans is still not understood. However, the chemical has been observed to affect the male reproductive system of animals and it is feared that the same effect could be possible in humans as well.

CDC confirms that phthalate exposure is widespread among Americans, given the widespread use of the chemical in manufacturing. McGill University biochemist Vassilios Papadopoulos explains,"We are all exposed to phthalates, whether we like it or not. You're exposed when you drive, when you eat food, when you breathe." However, he added that for adults, phthalate exposure is not a health concern at the moment.

Whether exposure to the chemical is a health concern or not, the study successfully demonstrated that phthalate exposure via fast-food consumption is significant. Bloomberg speculates that the chemical might have leached into the food from machinery, packaging and even gloves worn by workers. In fact, Japan banned the use of vinyl gloves in food preparation.

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