A chemical commonly used in cosmetics and plastics could increase the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes, a Swedish study found.

Researchers from the University of Uppsala, eastern Sweden, tested 1,016 people aged 70 for chemicals called phthalates, which are used to soften plastics and in cosmetics such as perfume and fake tan.

Even after taking into account other factors that can lead to diabetes, such as being overweight and smoking, the researchers found that those people with higher levels of phthalate chemicals in their bloodstream were more likely to develop diabetes.

"The findings in this cross-sectional study showed that several phthalate metabolites are related to diabetes prevalence," the study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, said.

"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 ... seen in the general elderly population," the authors added.