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Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Oct;119(10):1396-402. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1103582. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

Relationship between urinary phthalate and bisphenol A concentrations and serum thyroid measures in U.S. adults and adolescents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



Limited animal, in vitro, and human studies have reported that exposure to phthalates or bisphenol A (BPA) may affect thyroid signaling.


We explored the cross-sectional relationship between urinary concentrations of metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and BPA with a panel of serum thyroid measures among a representative sample of U.S. adults and adolescents.


We analyzed data on urinary biomarkers of exposure to phthalates and BPA, serum thyroid measures, and important covariates from 1,346 adults (ages ≥ 20 years) and 329 adolescents (ages 12-19 years) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008 using multivariable linear regression.


Among adults, we observed significant inverse relationships between urinary DEHP metabolites and total thyroxine (T4), free T4, total triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroglobulin, and positive relationships with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The strongest and most consistent relationships involved total T4, where adjusted regression coefficients for quintiles of oxidative DEHP metabolites displayed monotonic dose-dependent decreases in total T4 (p-value for trend < 0.0001). Suggestive inverse relationships between urinary BPA and total T4 and TSH were also observed. Conversely, among adolescents, we observed significant positive relationships between DEHP metabolites and total T3. Mono(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate, a secondary metabolite of both DBP and di-n-octyl phthalate, was associated with several thyroid measures in both age groups, whereas other DBP metabolites were not associated with thyroid measures.


These results support previous reports of associations between phthalates-and possibly BPA--and altered thyroid hormones. More detailed studies are needed to determine the temporal relationships and potential clinical and public health implications of these associations.

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