The study examined the effects of 111 chemicals on 31,575 women.  
As many as 15 different chemicals were identified as harmful by a team of researchers at Washington University in St Louis and among them were phthalates, which are used to soften plastics.

They are found in food packaging and household products, including perfume, lipsticks, body wash, hair care products and nail varnishes.The scientists analysed the levels of 111 chemicals in the blood and urine of the 31,575 women who took part in the study.Their findings show that women with higher levels of certain chemicals go through the change two to four years earlier than those with lower levels.

A decline in ovarian function not only affects fertility, but can lead to a woman suffering heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems. The chemicals are also known to increase the risk of certain cancers, metabolic syndrome and, in younger females, early puberty.

"Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggest we as a society should be concerned," said senior author of the study, Professor Amber Cooper.


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