A new study found that chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products and common household items caused a decline in ovarian function.Renata Alves dos Anjos/Flickr

Exposure to certain chemicals present in beauty products and household items can lead to an early onset of menopause, American researchers reveal.

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE has shortlisted 15 chemicals from a list of 111 as endocrine-disruptors.

Women in the study with higher levels of these chemicals in blood reached menopause two to four years before women who had lower levels of these chemicals in blood.

Menopause refers to stopping of menstrual periods in women. It means that the ovaries no longer produce hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Menopause happens when a woman does not get her menstrual periods for at least one year. In most of the cases, women attain menopause after age 45. In the UK, the average age is 52, while in the US, it is 51.

Amber Cooper and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in the US found that chemicals found in plastics, personal-care products and common household items caused a decline in ovarian function, a factor that has been known to increase the risk of several health problems including infertility, heart disease and osteoporosis. Moreover, these chemicals can also contribute widely to the development of cancers, metabolic syndrome and early puberty.

Data for the study came from CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted between 1999 and 2008 in the US. As part of the study, researchers tested blood and urine samples collected from 1,442 menopausal women, aged around 61.

Nine PCBs, two phthalates, three pesticides and a furan were found to affect natural onset of menopause and ovarian function in the participants.

"Earlier menopause can alter the quality of a woman's life and has profound implications for fertility, health and our society," Cooper said in a news release. "This study doesn't prove causation, but the associations raise a red flag and support the need for future research."

Know More about Your Endocrine System

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, are certain man-made chemicals, which interfere with body's endocrine system.

Endocrine system refers to the collection of glands in the body and their hormones, which help manage different functions of the body including metabolism, growth and sexual development. It, according to the American Medical Association, mainly consists of adrenal glands, hypothalamus, ovaries, testicles, pancreas, pineal body, parathyroid glands, pituitary gland, thymus gland and thyroid gland.