Beauty junkies, check your cosmetics: Using beauty products that contain phthalates might be putting you at risk for early-onset menopause, according to a new study from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.
Researchers examined National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data and determined that women with the highest level of phthalates in their systems reported experiencing menopause 2.3 years earlier.
“Phthalates can disrupt your hormonal makeup,” says Dr. Laura Corio, an obstetrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Once in your system, phthalates can mimic and chemically change hormones in your body. For example, when phthalates mimic estrogen (which helps regularize your period), it confuses your body and results in a lack of real estrogen. This can cause irregular periods—one of the first signs of menopause, Corio says. (Phthalates aren’t the only chemical to blame. Here are 8 More Everyday Chemicals That Could Screw with Your Fertility.)
And regardless of how phthalates enter your bloodstream—whether ingested or absorbed by your skin, from your beauty products—once they’re in your body, they start wreaking havoc on your system.
Other things that might derail your biological clock? Smoking, genetics, and any kind of reproductive surgery are all culprits, Corio says. (Learn why your mother might be able to Predict When You’ll Go Through Menopause.)
And though you have no control over your genetics, quitting the cancer sticks and trying to get rid of toxins in your products are two ways to lower your risk, she says.
This content originally appeared as "10 Phthalate-Free Beauty Products" on Women's Health.