Study shows tooth decay in DEHP, an endocrine disruptor found in soft plastic

A French study revealed that endocrine disorders, one of the most important public health issues, can damage children’s teeth. The book’s author, Sylvie Babajko, explains to “liberation” this “relatively modern concept.”

What if an endocrine disruption also damages teeth? It is known that these substances, which are able to block the action of hormones in the human body, can be responsible for developmental diseases or cancers. They would also be able to weaken teeth, according to work by Sylvie Babajko, director of research at Inserm.

With her team, she publishes an article on Wednesday in the magazine Environmental Health Perspectives, on the effects of DEHP on mouse tooth enamel. DEHP belongs to the family of phthalates. Used to soften plastic, it can be found in food films or bottles, but also in blood or dialysis bags and infusion equipment in hospitals. The researcher explains to Release The importance of studying the effect of endocrine disruptors on teeth.

What does your article published today show?

The originality of our work is to show that teeth are sensitive to the environment, too. This is a relatively new concept. We often talk about fertility problems, obesity, or cancers related to environmental exposure. But we prove that teeth are also sensitive to environmental substances, including in low doses.

In concrete terms, I have studied the condition of the teeth of rats according to the doses of DEHP they are exposed to. For what results?

We used two low exposure doses. One, 5 mcg of DEHP/kg/day, is a child’s estimated daily exposure level of DEHP. The other, 50 mcg DEHP/kg/day, corresponds to the level of exposure of hospitalized patients to perfusion or dialysis, for example.

In two cases, effects were observed. But the number of infected animals and the severity of the damage is greater for the higher dose. Teeth are dull, discolored, chipped or broken. In addition, males are affected more than females.

What do you infer from this?

The defects of these teeth are caused by a defect in the enamel that is not mineralized enough. So it is less difficult and more fragile. Our study identified the cells targeted by DEHP. These findings could be related to the mineral deficiency disease of the enamel of the incisors and molars, which today affects 14 to 15% of children worldwide. Its prevalence is on the rise. Therefore, exposure to endocrine disruptors such as DEHP is thought to contribute to this. However, enamel incisors and molars form very early in life, around birth, according to a well-defined chronology. Premolars and canines are less affected. Their enamel is formed later. So there is a more important window of exposure.

Are these findings consistent with your previous items on the topic?

Yes, we have already obtained similar results by studying the effects of another endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A. [présent dans les biberons avant son interdiction en 2010, ndlr]. We started this research in 2012-2013, because colleagues working on the effects of endocrine disruptors found that their animals’ teeth were poor.

This kind of endocrine disorder findings are always worrisome, right?

This is the whole problem with endocrine disorders. They can have effects at very low doses, which is why it is important to do research to identify and protect against these molecules. In humans, epidemiological studies show that chronic exposure to a mixture of substances, even at low doses, leads to an increased risk of certain diseases. But research on this topic still needs to be improved to understand the mechanisms involved, which is challenging. In our case, we do not have access to the cells that generate enamel because it disappears very quickly in young children, when the teeth erupt. However, our experimental approach could make it possible to characterize exposure to specific substances at the crucial moment in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. [de la fécondation aux deux ans]. If we follow the population with these dental problems over time, perhaps we can identify other prior diseases associated with the same exposures. Our work and that of other teams around the world must provide answers.

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