Personal care products and cosmetics have been identified as major sources of paraben exposure among humans. However, the contribution of dietary factors has not been well understood. We recruited temple stay participants (n
= 25) who followed a strict Buddhist vegetarian diet during a five-day period, and assessed the influence of this lifestyle change, employing their urine samples collected before and after the temple stay. Before the temple stay, methylparaben (MeP) was detected at the highest levels, followed by ethylparaben (EtP), propylparaben (PrP), butylparaben (BuP), and benzophenones (BPs) in the urine samples. Following the temple stay, the urinary EtP concentrations remarkably increased from 14.0 to 105 μg/L, and were around two orders of magnitude higher than those reported from other countries. Dietary factors associated with the temple diet may partly explain the increase, because EtP is allowed in Korea for seasoning and condiments, which are frequently added in vegetarian diets. Following the temple stay, however, MeP, PrP, and BPs did not show significant decreasing trends. In contrast, BuP levels decreased significantly, especially in male urine samples, that is, from 3.60 to 1.03 μ/L, suggesting a reduced use of certain personal care products during the temple stay. Our observations outline the potential importance of dietary factors on EtP exposure, and might help explain its high exposure levels among Korean population.
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