Cosmetics’ Chemicals May Make Us Lazy

It sounds crazy, but, as Gretchen Reynolds reports in fat-rat1the New York Times, research suggests that a common chemical found in many cosmetics and personal care products may influence our will to exercise. The Times reports that scientists at Texas A&M University set out to determine if the chemicals, called phthalates, influenced the behavior of mice.  They did that by feeding benzyl butyl phthalate (B.B.P.), a common phthalate, to pregnant mice, while another (control) group of pregnant mice was fed a harmless oil. When the baby mice were born, the researchers tracked their activity levels, observing which mice chose to run on wheels and which did not. Reynolds reports that the male mice that had been exposed to the chemicals in utero ran about 20 percent less during adulthood than the other animals, while the exposed females exercised about 15 percent less. Wait, there’s more. The researchers also found that “the researchers found that the male mice exposed to B.B.P. in utero had notably lower levels of testosterone than the other animals in young adulthood, which is also when their running mileage cratered. Those differences lingered into middle age. The exposed females similarly developed during young adulthood low estrogen levels and other reproductive system abnormalities that then produced a profound desire, it seems, to sit for most of the day.”

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