Urinary phenols and parabens and diabetes among US adults, NHANES 2005-2014

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2020 May 7;30(5):768-776. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2020.01.005. Epub 2020 Jan 25.


Background and aims: Phenols and parabens are ubiquitous and have been associated with markers of cardiovascular health. However, the literature lacks population-based studies examining the link between these endocrine disruptors and diabetes. We examined the association between paraben/phenol concentrations and diabetes among a nationally representative sample of US adults.

Methods and results: We utilized data from the 2005-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (N = 8498). Total urinary concentrations of BPA, triclosan, BP-3, and propyl, butyl, ethyl, and methyl parabens were measured from urine specimens collected during the examination session. Diabetes status was based on self-report of a previous diagnosis or HbA1c≥6.5%. We used logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) associated with the difference in log-transformed values of the 75th and 25th percentiles for each phenol/paraben, adjusting for potential confounders. The adjusted ORs (95% CI) of diabetes comparing the 75th to 25th percentiles of each paraben/phenol were 1.09 (0.96-1.23) for BPA, 0.84 (0.72-0.98) for triclosan, 0.69 (0.61-0.79) for BP-3, 0.71 (0.61-0.83) for propyl paraben, 0.66 (0.54-0.80) for butyl paraben, 0.60 (0.51-0.71) for ethyl paraben, and 0.79 (0.68-0.91) for methyl paraben.

Conclusions: Higher concentrations of triclosan, BP-3, and propyl, butyl, ethyl, and methyl parabens were associated with lower odds of diabetes. These findings warrant further investigation into the potential mechanism behind the observed associations and the temporal direction of the associations, given that we cannot rule out reverse causation. Future studies of these endocrine disruptors may improve the understanding of their relationship with diabetes.

Keywords: Benzophenone-3; Diabetes; Parabens; Phenols; Triclosan; United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / urine*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects
  • Endocrine Disruptors / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Parabens / adverse effects
  • Parabens / metabolism*
  • Phenols / adverse effects
  • Phenols / urine*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Parabens
  • Phenols