A disturbing new study has shown that exposure to shampoo and other household products can cause infertility and birth defects in mice, and could potentially have the same effect on humans.
Recent studies on mice have shown what some have long feared: exposure to chemicals found in common household products can be hazardous to your health.
Quaternary ammonium compounds, commonly referred to as "quats," are thought to be to blame, with the potentially dangerous chemical being found in many common household products including shampoos and washing powders. Other common products that often contain quats include fabric softeners, hair conditioners, and even eye drops.
The Daily Mail reported that infertility has been on the rise in recent years, referring to statistics that suggest that one in eight couples in the United States have trouble conceiving. Infertility is generally defined as the inability to carry a baby to full term or failure to conceive after a year of regular and unprotected sex.
The study showed that quats can affect the neural tube, in particular, the part of the mice's anatomy from which the brain and spine will form during gestation. Neural tube defects are most commonly known to cause spina bifida and anencephaly in humans.
Terry Hrubec from Virginia's Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine noted that quats are not only found in the home but in public places like swimming pools and hospitals.
"Most people are exposed on a regular basis."
Unfortunately, you won't find quats or quaternary ammonium compounds listed in the ingredients of household products, as they generally go by different names. Two commonly used quats, ones to watch out for on household products, are alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC) and didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC).
While the study did not look at the potential effects of the chemicals on humans, the results from tests on mice were certainly disturbing. It didn't matter whether it was the male or female mouse that was exposed to the chemical, as the same results were observed regardless of whether one parent or both parents were exposed.
But it's not only birth defects that can result from exposure to quats, as infertility has also been linked to the potentially dangerous chemicals. When it came to a reduction in fertility, male and female mice were equally affected, with decreased sperm counts noted in males, and reduced ovulation rates in females.
Some may question that the results of the study may have little bearing on humans since only mice have been tested. However, Professor Hrubec noted that rodents are considered the "gold standard" in biomedical sciences.
"Since rodent research is the gold standard in the biomedical sciences, this raises a big red flag that these chemicals may be toxic to humans as well."
Further research and studies are needed to determine if the worrying results have as much bearing on humans as they do on mice.
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