Is Your Catheter Made with DEHP? Find Out!

Is Your Catheter Made with DEHP? Find Out!

Is your intermittent catheter made with a chemical called DEHP? It’s time to find out!

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 2.02.44 PMOn March 1, 1987, after a popular voter initiative was approved, the state of California created a comprehensive list of “Chemicals Known to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity.” Because of this legislative action, Proposition 65 labeling came into effect. You’ll see the Proposition 65 label today on many home medical products that are manufactured with chemicals that fall under this category.

DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) is listed on the Proposition 65 registry as a known carcinogen, and it’s known to cause reproductive harm in men. The chemical is a plastic softener that is often used in the manufacturing process to make PVC more flexible. Several kinds of medical devices, including some intermittent catheters, are still made with DEHP today — and unfortunately, this is currently legal.

What major health agencies want you to know about DEHP

 The American Nurses Association (ANA) has made strong statements about their concerns with DEHP. An article in American Nurse Today written by Registered Nurse Susan Trossman stated, “the ANA … want nurses to consider this: Many chemicals in products—such as di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) used to soften plastic … are not innocuous. These and other chemicals can affect the health of nurses and patients by direct contact or indirect environmental exposure.” In fact, for the last 11 years, the ANA has encouraged hospitals and health care professionals to switch to medical devices that are not made with DEHP, according to a public statement on the ANA website.Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 2.03.51 PM.png

For the last 15 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also warned health care providers to use alternatives to DEHP-containing devices.  The health risk from DEHP is severe enough that the federal government has banned it from being used in children’s toys due to the chemical’s ability to be absorbed through the mouth and skin

Why is DEHP still found in many intermittent catheters on the market today?

 We can’t come up with a good answer for that question, but we can suggest what to do when choosing an intermittent catheter or another home medical product.

  1. Learn about your health risks

Reducing exposure to known carcinogens is a legitimate concern for people who have a higher risk for cancer due to hereditary or other health issues.

Did you know the incidence rate of bladder cancer in people who have spinal cord injury (SCI) is 16 to 28 times higher than that of the general population?

That’s according to a research study published by model SCI center Craig Rehabilitation Hospital. Expert urologist Dr. Gerard Henry sees patients from all over the world at his practice, Ark-La-Tex Urology, because of his skill and reputation in treating male urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and urinary difficulties. He received his medical degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

School of Medicine, and completed a six-year Urology Residency at Duke University in Durham, N.C. including a one-year basic science research fellowship and has been in practice for more than 20 years. “Catheter users should care about DEHP and BPA, because they are known carcinogens and known to cause reproductive harm,” Henry says.

“As a medical professional, my first rule is to Do No Harm,” he continues. “If I was discussing with my medical colleagues what they were prescribing, if they were still prescribing catheters that are made with DEHP, I would refer them to that landmark study from Craig Hospital in Denver. Anything you can do to avoid known carcinogens is a good idea.”

  1. Ask your medical supply provider what chemicals are in your catheter

 T5 Paraplegic Kristina Rhoades first began using catheters when she was 10 months old. “Although I’ve used them for over 30 years, I never thought to question what was in my catheters,” she says. “I’m a big advocate for natural products, and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the catheters I had been using since I was a baby were made with several chemicals that have been found to be harmful – chemicals that I had already been working to eliminate from my family’s life for years. Frankly, I was shocked!Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 2.10.48 PM.png

Don’t be afraid to ask your medical supply provider to tell you if your current catheter is made with DEHP. They should be able to offer a comparable alternative if you would prefer to use a catheter that is not made with known carcinogens.

  1. Choose a catheter that is not made with DEHP

The good news is that a large selection of quality-made, user-friendly intermittent catheters exist today that are not made with DEHP.  Cure Medical is one supplier of those catheters. Cure Medical CEO John Anderson believes that when there are options available to create intermittent catheters that work just as well as those made with scary chemicals, there’s really no reason to use those chemicals if you can avoid it. “Cure Medical believes it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “So we made the decision to go without DEHP in our medical products.”

Cure Medical offers free samples as well as free educational materials for parents to help them learn about their catheter options. You can even request an educational backpack for kids when you order a pediatric sample.

Request your free educational backpack here. 

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  1. Tell a friend to check their products too

As a consumer, knowledge is YOUR power. When you have the facts, you can make informed decisions about which medical supplies and health products you want to use. It’s important to pass information like this on to your friends and loved ones who cath too, so they can make educated decisions about their own health.  Share this story with someone you know and love!

For More Information

There are a variety of resources online to help you get better informed about DEHP as a material, and the health risks it poses. Similarly, there are good resources online about Proposition 65. To help you get up to speed, check out these sites:

  1. “Proposition 65 News” is a site that provides news and details about California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known by its original name, Proposition 65.
  2. “Hazards: PVC & DEHP” is a site from Washington State Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety.
  3. “Bladder cancer in patients with spinal cord injury” is a large, broad research document available at
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and was sponsored through an unrestricted educational grant from Cure Medical. Any products or services mentioned in this article are not endorsed by the Spina Bifida Association (SBA). For product questions or concerns, please contact vendor directly.

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