"Researchers investigating the use of phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens, used in packaging as well as perfumes, lotions and shampoos, has found evidence they can cause harm by interfering with the body's hormones.
A study of the effects of the three compounds on 1,151 pre-pubescent girls in the US found they caused a variety of problems in puberty.
Dr. Mary Wolff, an oncologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said: 'Research has shown that early pubertal development in girls can have adverse social and medical effects, including cancer and diabetes later in life.
'Our research shows a connection between chemicals that girls are exposed to on a daily basis and either delayed or early development. While more research is needed, these data are an important first step in continuing to evaluate the impact of these common environmental agents in putting girls at risk.' "