Phthalates Can Make You Fat and Sick!

by Dr. Kilcup | Oct 6, 2014 | Articles, Cancer, Diabetes, Toxins And Detox, Weight Loss


I bet you never guessed that a skin moisturizer or that delicious Salmon dinner could be loaded with a toxin that can make you fat and sick.  Phthalates are the #1 pollutant we have in our bodies, and they can make you fat and sick!  Here is a partial list of conditions that have been linked to phthalates.

  • Obesity
  • Breast cancer
  • Hormone imbalances, especially in boys.
  • Indifference, laziness and passivity can be caused by phthalates in boys.
  • Low birth weight in infants
  • Allergies in children
  • Symptoms of ADHD in children
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Syndrome X
  • Diabetes
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Infertility
  • Autism
Phthalates are chemicals that are used to make plastic flexible.  They are also used in hygiene products as lubricants or emulsifiers, and in cleaning products as solvents. What makes these toxins so bad is that to the body these toxins look like hormones.  As a result they can wreak havoc on our bodies.
Obviously food and beverages stored in plastic can contain phthalates, but there are a lot of sources that we might not think of like:
  • Plastic toys made before 2009
  • PVC flooring: vinyl floors, carpeting and those colorful foam floor pads can be a source for toddlers who will get phthalates both through contact and inhalation.
  • Flame retardants in mattresses and children’s pajamas
  • Cleaning products
  • Pesticides and conventional produce exposed to pesticides
  • Fatty foods like milk, butter, and meats are major sources, as phthalates consumed by animals through pesticide-laden food and water accumulate in the fat. Organic meat and dairy are less likely to contain phthalates, as the animals must be fed organic feed.
  • Atlantic farm-raised salmon (Wild Pacific salmon is one of the cleanest, healthiest fish.)
  • Dusty homes
  • Body care products can be a major source and are especially for dangerous for kids.  Shampoo, lotions, and powders are often full of the phthalates.
  • Medical equipment, from gloves and tubing to packaging and drapes, contain and give off phthalates.  Children are the most hurt by this because the toxin load per body weight is the highest.
  • Perfumes
  • Pencil erasers are a common source phthalates.
  • Phthalates are in the capsules and coatings of many drugs and in the inactive ingredients they contain.
  • The water we drink
  • Cosmetics, nail polish and hair spray
  • Mattresses and furniture
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Auto interior and exhaust fumes (That “new car” smell comes from phthalates in the steering wheel, dashboard and upholstery.)
  • The air we breath.  Urban areas are worse than rural.  Indoor air is worse than outdoor air.  Hot temps are worse than cool temps.


With so many sources of phthalates, it is no surprise that these toxins can be 10,000 times higher than any other environmental toxin.  These toxins build up over time and overwhelm the body’s ability to detoxify them.

Children are most are the most vulnerable to phthalate exposure.  Because children are smaller, the toxins are more concentrated in their bodies. In addition, children’s brains and reproductive organs are still developing, so the toxins’ presence is much more damaging.  These toxins being introduced at such a fragile time can make the child more susceptible to childhood obesity and later in life experience problems with fertility and even cancer.  The harm often starts while the baby is inside the mother.  If mom has high levels of phthalates, she will pass them on to her baby, both while in utero and through breast milk.

Here is a list of common phthalates to look for on labels:

  • DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
  • DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)
  • DiNP (diisononyl phthalate)
  • DEP (diethyl phthalate)
  • BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate)
  • DEHP (di 2-ethylhexl phthalate)
  • DiDP (diisodecyl phthalate)
  • DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate)
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate)
  • DnOP (di-n-octylphthalate)
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)

You may or may not find those words on an ingredients list, but if you see the words fragrance, perfume or parfum, the product will contain phthalates.  Neither will you find them as ingredients in food products, however phthalates in food packaging like plastic bags, plastic bottles and BPA lined cans can leach into the food. It can even pass into the food from plastic tubing or parts used in processing machinery.

This symbol is going to be on any plastic that contains phthalates like water bottles or food packaging:


Plastic with recycling codes 3 and 7 may contain phtahlates, while those with codes 1, 2 or 5 should not.

Here is the good news:

The good news is that testing and treatment for phthalate toxicity is simple.  There is a simple urine test that will discover if a person has high phthalate levels.  Getting tested is the only way to know if a person is fat or sick as a result of these toxins.  It would be very smart for any woman who is looking to have baby or who is currently pregnant or nursing to get tested.  Anyone suffering from any of the conditions listed above should be tested.  Anyone who is having a difficult time losing weight should be tested to see if these toxins are the problem.

Here is a sample of the test I use to see what the levels phthalates are:


When I find that a patient has high phthalate levels, I put together a treatment plan that will help the body detoxify, and repair the damage the toxins have done.
The first step in treating phthalate toxicity is to remove as many sources of phthalates as possible.  While some sources, like the building you work in, or the kind of floor in your house are difficult to do anything about, many sources of phthalates are easily removed.  Here are some ways you can reduce phthalate exposure:
  • Choose fragrance free products or those scented with essential oils or natural ingredients.
  • The Environmental Working Group has a website that rates body care products by the safety of their ingredients.
  • Use natural cleaners in your home instead of chemical ones. You can clean a lot of things with just vinegar and baking soda!
  • Throw out old plastic toys if you’re not sure they were made after 2009 when phthalates were banned from use in toys.
  • Eat less processed, packaged food items and more fresh, organic foods.
  • Let your hot car air out for a few minutes before you get in, by opening all the doors. Heat increases the levels of phthalates emitted into the air.
  • When it’s time to replace flooring, consider wood, stone or tile instead of carpet or vinyl.
  • Use less plastic and more stainless steel and glass in the kitchen, and never microwave foods in plastic containers. If you can’t part with plastic storage containers, at least don’t put hot foods or foods with high fat content into them.
Choosing natural products and cleaner sources of food can go a long way in helping decrease phthalate levels in the body. I can help you with the next steps of detoxifying and restoring your body to health.
If you have high phthalates levels you won’t be able to lose weight or resolve your health problems, so testing is a crucial first step.
I would love to answer your questions below in the comment section.

Darrell Kilcup, DC, CFMP

Hi there! I’m Dr. Kilcup. You know that health problem you’ve been dealing with – the one that doctors can’t seem to solve, that’s stealing way too much of your time, energy and joy? I can help you get to the bottom that. I am passionate about using the best of science and nutrition to find and fix root causes of health issues. Start your journey towards healing and relief today.

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