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People who eat fast food may be ingesting potentially harmful chemicals called phthalates, a new study finds - another reason to avoid eating these typically unhealthy foods, experts say.
Still, for people who want to reduce their exposure to phthalates, a chemical used in plastics that can leach into foods, reducing fast food consumption could be one way to do this, said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health.
In the study, public health researchers at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., analyzed information from more than 8,800 people who took part in a national health survey and answered questions about their diet, including how much fast food they'd eaten in the past day. The survey participants also submitted urine samples, which the researchers analyzed to look for the breakdown products of two types of phthalates.
The results showed that the people who had eaten the most fast food in the past day had levels of phthalate metabolites that were 24 to 40 percent higher than those of the people who hadn't eaten fast food, the study found.
The findings are concerning, Spaeth said, because exposure to phthalates has been linked with adverse health effects, including reproductive problems in adults, and lower IQ in children.
The study also suggested that meat and grain items - including bread, cake, pizza, burritos, rice dishes and noodles - were the biggest contributors to phthalate exposure in the people who ate fast food.
Phthalates might get into fast food if the food comes into contact with plastic packing or PVC tubing (used in food processing) that contains the chemical. It's also possible that the plastic gloves that fast food workers wear may be a source of phthalates, the researchers said.
2016.04.16 / 11:07