Associations of individual characteristics and lifestyle factors with metabolism of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate in NHANES 2001-2012

Lusine Yaghjyan, Nils P. Carlsson, Gabriela L. Ghita, Su Hsin Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies suggest that a higher ratio of primary to secondary metabolites of di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), reflective of a slower DEHP conversion rate, is associated with a greater physiologic effect. We examined associations of several individual characteristics and lifestyle factors with the ratio of mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate to mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) phthalate (MEHP:MEHHP) and %MEHP (the ratio of MEHP to the sum of the secondary metabolites). Methods: We used the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001-2012. The study included adults with BMI<30 and no diabetes. Pregnant women were excluded. We examined associations of age, race, gender, Body Mass Index, smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption, medication use, cancer history, and menopausal status and postmenopausal hormone use (in women) with MEHP:MEHHP and %MEHP using multivariable linear regression. The values for %MEHP were log-transformed in the analysis. Results: In multivariable analysis, non-Caucasian individuals had higher %MEHP (non-Hispanic Blacks: β=0.114, 95% Confidence interval [CI]: 0.050, 0.177; Hispanic: β=0.089, 95% CI: 0.024, 0.154; other race: β=0.126, 95% CI: 0.033, 0.219). Age was inversely associated with MEHP:MEHHP (β=-0.001, 95% CI: -0.002, -0.001) and %MEHP (β=-0.006, 95% CI: -0.008, -0.004). Overweight individuals had lower MEHP: MEHHP and lower %MEHP (β=-0.035, 95% CI: 0.062, -0.008 and β=-0.104, 95% CI: -0.162, -0.046, respectively). Alcohol consumption was inversely associated with %MEHP among men (p-trend=0.03). Conclusions: Individual and lifestyle characteristics are associated with differences in DEHP metabolism. Understanding underlying biological mechanisms could help to identify individuals at a greater risk of adverse effects from DEHP exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Lifestyle
  • Phthalate exposure
  • Risk factors


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