Background: The menopausal transition is a hormonally sensitive period associated with changes in body weight. Phthalates are ubiquitous endocrine disrupting chemicals that could disrupt weight homeostasis, but it is unknown whether this occurs during the menopausal transition. Objectives: Our objectives were to (1) determine if phthalate exposure in pre- and perimenopausal women was associated with one-year change in body mass index (BMI), and (2) determine if these associations differed across the menopausal transition. Methods: We addressed our objectives using data from 524 participants enrolled in the Midlife Women's Health Study. We calculated change in BMI from baseline to first follow-up visit approximately one year later. Phthalate exposures were approximated by measuring urinary metabolites in pools of two-to-four spot urine samples collected across a four-week period at baseline. We molar-converted and summed mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (mEHP), mono (2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (mEHHP), mono (2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate (mEOHP), and mono (2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl) phthalate (mECPP) to approximate exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (∑DEHP); ∑DEHP, mono (3-carboxypropyl) phthalate (mCPP), and monobenzyl phthalate (mBzP) to approximate exposure to plasticizer phthalates (∑Plastics); and monoethyl phthalate (mEP), monobutyl phthalate (mBP), and monoisobutyl phthalate (miBP) to approximate exposure to phthalates from personal care products (∑PCP). We used multivariable linear regression models to evaluate associations of specific gravity-adjusted ln-transformed phthalate metabolites or sums with one-year BMI change, and also considered whether associations differed depending on each woman's menopausal status change from baseline to first follow-up. Results: At baseline, most women were premenopausal (67.8%), non-Hispanic white (67.9%), and college educated (65.8%). Overall, urinary phthalate metabolites or sums were not associated with one-year BMI change. Stratified analysis identified positive associations between ∑DEHP (and three of its metabolites: MEHP, MEHHP, and MEOHP) and one-year BMI change among women who transitioned from peri-to post-menopause from baseline to first follow-up. For example, in these women, with each doubling of ∑DEHP, BMI increased by 0.65 kg/m2 (95%CI: 0.17, 1.13) from baseline to first follow-up. Personal care product-associated phthalate metabolites (mBP and mEP) were negatively associated with one-year BMI change among women who remained perimenopausal from baseline to first follow-up, while miBP and mEP were positively associated with one-year BMI change among women who transitioned from peri-to post-menopause. Conclusion: We found the strongest associations between some phthalates and one-year BMI change in women who transitioned from peri-to post-menopause from baseline to first follow-up. This supports previous evidence that the menopausal transition is a hormonally sensitive period in women's lives. To establish whether phthalate exposure contributes to body weight changes associated with the menopausal transition, substantially more research is needed to corroborate our findings.
- Body mass index
- Endocrine disrupting chemicals
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)