ShutterstockThe benefits of yoga are numerous and well documented, but taking on the new discipline may seem daunting (even though you can start practicing yoga just ten minutes at a time). But before you consider trying it out, keep in mind the risks, not to the regimen, but to equipment used. A new study from Harvard University has found a link between yoga mats and infertility in women.
The specific component which is cause for concern is a polyurethane compound in the chemical class of organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs). These chemicals are common in everything from furniture to baby products.
The study tracked the chemicals present in the systems of 211 women at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Fertility Center and the women with the highest concentrations of PFRs in their systems had the lowest fertility rates.
Specifically, women with the highest concentrations had a 41 percent lower chance of achieving pregnancy, a 38 percent lower chance of having a successful live birth, and 31 percent lower chance of having an embryo successfully implanted in their uterus. These percentages are in relation to the study participants with the lowest concentrations of PFRs.
It’s worth noting that the study was conducted in a very specific region at a very specific fertility clinic. But the results are still noteworthy and should warrant further research.
The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. In a prior journal article, it was noted that “little is known about human exposure to PFRs because they cannot be easily measured in blood or serum,” so this research is pretty key, especially considering the chemical’s prevalence in commercial products.
The express purpose of yoga mats isn’t to lead to infertility, but Moscow mule mugs also aren’t supposed to poison you, either. Maybe stick to the bamboo mat for now.