How Your Filthy House Might Be Making You Fat


Hasan Variawa |

There may be another surprising obesity trigger you never thought of
By Christa Sgobba

If you want to keep off the extra weight, you know you need to clean up your diet. But should you also be cleaning up your house, too? That’s the question raised by new research out of Duke University, which suggests that compounds in your household dust might be making you fat.

In the study, researchers tested samples of indoor dust from 11 homes in North Carolina, USA on “pre-fat” mouse cells, or cells which develop into fat cells when exposed to certain chemicals.

Seven out of the 11 samples spurred the cells to develop into mature fat cells, and to accumulate more triglycerides, or fat cells in the blood. And nine of the samples triggered cells to divide, creating a larger pool of potential fat cells. Just one of the samples tested produced no effect on the precursor fat cells, the researchers explained in a statement.

The compounds likely responsible are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, which can interfere with your body’s hormones. They include things like flame retardants, phthalates and bisphenol-A, and can be found in super common products like vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, plastic clothing, children’s toys, and personal care products. They can wind up in indoor dust, which can then be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, according to the statement.

Out of the 44 compounds in dust tested, the pesticide pyraclostrobin, the flame-retardant TBPDP, and a plasticizer called DBP, a commonly used plasticizer had the greatest fat-spurring effects.

According to the study, the organic compounds tested are “often ubiquitously detected in indoor environments,” so it’s not clear whether being fanatical about a clean house would remove the dust, or if levels of the compounds would still exist. The study didn’t look at whether “dirty” houses had more fat-promoting dust than “clean” ones did. But who wants to live in a filthy house anyways?

Plus, since the compounds were tested on mice cells, it’s difficult to say if the same effects would translate to humans, too.

So before you go on an insane cleaning spree, more research needs to be done to take these findings to practical recommendations. In the meantime, if you want to slash your odds for obesity, the tried-and-true methods of a healthy diet and exercise are the ways to do it.

Originally published on menshealth.com

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