If you know me, you know that I’m all about reducing toxin exposure and supporting the body’s detoxification processes. My book The Detox Strategy is a great resource for just that. I am concerned about the harmful effects toxins have on our bodies. With 80,000 chemicals in use today and over 1,000 new chemicals introduced each year—with minimal testing—we are swimming in a toxic soup. The idea that these chemicals are safe because they are used in small amounts is ridiculous. Scientists are slowly but surely coming to this same conclusion.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care has found a link between increased blood levels of phthalates (chemicals added to plastics to increase flexibility) and the risk of type 2 diabetes. The study involved over 1,000 elderly men and women who were examined for fasting blood sugar, insulin and proinsulin levels, and blood levels of an array of toxins, including phthalate metabolites, markers of phthalate exposure.

Type 2 diabetes was most commonly found in overweight participants with high blood lipids, as expected, but it was also found in those with high levels of phthalates, even in people who did not have other traditional risk factors for diabetes. The presence of certain phthalates was associated with disrupted insulin secretion in the pancreas, and insulin resistance, a main feature of type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded, “These findings support the view that these commonly used chemicals might influence major factors that are regulating glucose metabolism in humans at the level of exposure of phthalate metabolites seen in the general elderly population.”

Phthalates are found almost everywhere—in many personal care products, in plastics (and in foods contained by plastics, especially fatty foods), building materials, packaging, and more. Eliminating exposure to phthalates is impossible, but you may be able to reduce exposure by replacing some of the phthalate-containing products you use. For example, switch from plastic to glass storage containers. Buy PVC-free shower curtains. When possible, purchase fat-containing foods in non-plastic containers. And of course, support your body’s detoxification processes with regular cleansing. Be sure your bowel elimination is regular and support the function of your seven channels of elimination: colon, liver, lungs, lymph, kidneys, skin, and blood.