(NaturalNews)The coatings of many common drugs and supplements often contain phthalates according to a recent study reported in Environmental Health Perspectives. This family of plasticizer compounds has been linked in previous studies to hormonal and reproductive problems as well as fetal brain damage.
Phthalate coatings on capsules and pills are used to help regulate the timed release of drugs or to deliver active ingredients to specific areas in the digestive tract where it is most useful for them to be absorbed. Given the concern over the potential health hazards of phthalates, many people would prefer not to swallow them. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to know which drugs have this type of coating. Companies may categorize the use of phthalates in drug delivery systems as trade secrets, and the FDA does not require disclosure of the recipe for such secrets.
The research team, including scientists from both Harvard School of Public Health and Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, identified drugs containing phthalates through several means. They began with a list 450 drugs categorized as not safe to crush or chew because of their special coatings. They also reviewed newsletters for information about new drugs, performed internet searches and even spent time reading labels in drugstore aisles. In addition, they contacted manufacturers with questions. Their search comprised between 500 and 1,000 prescription and over-the-counter supplements and drugs. Of these, they found that more than 100 containing forms of phthalates linked in previous studies to a variety of health problems.
The research team found phthalates in a wide range of both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Laxatives, antibiotics, blood pressure medications, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, dietary supplements and many acid-reducing medications were among the substances coated with the plasticizer compounds.
Consumers seeking to avoid phthalates may want to read the list of inactive ingredients on a drug label, suggest the researchers. Also, look for terms such as "delayed-release," "controlled-release," "time-release," "targeted-release," or "enteric coatings" which can point to the presence of phthalates. Also, epidemiologists recommend that people receiving a prescription medication, especially over the long-term for a chronic condition, may want to investigate whether the drug they receive has this type of coating, and if so, whether there is phthalate-free alternative version of that medicine.
Phthalates are present in many places -- toys, shampoos, perfumes, deodorants, wall and floor coverings and even IV tubes. Although early research focused on the danger of phthalates to infants and children, recent evidence suggests there is also a link between these compounds and cancer in adults. Minimize your toxic load as far as possible; being careful about the coatings on any pills you may take.