Bisphenol-A (BPA)

There's quite a buzz about environmental contaminants these days, particularly from plastics. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is thought to bind to estrogen receptors and mimic some of the hormone's physiologic activities. Much of the public debate on the effects of BPA ingestion in humans has focused on reproductive health. In various studies, BPA has been associated with permanent changes to the genital tract, cancerous changes in breast tissue, enlarged prostate, early puberty, weight gain and decline in testicular testosterone. Turns out, this is a bigger problem than once thought.

According to a study based on the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), we can add Liver disease, Diabetes and Heart Disease to the list. Elevated urinary levels of BPA significantly raise the chances of having diabetes or a history of cardiovascular events.

 

A one-standard-deviation rise in BPA concentrations was associated with a 63% increased risk of having been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, a 40% greater likelihood of having had a "heart attack," and a 39% increased risk of diabetes. In the NHANES cohort of more than 1400 patients, the same degree of BPA elevation was also associated with abnormally high liver enzymes.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that BPA was detected in the urine of 93% of tested participants, in the same overall NHANES database, who were six years old or older. This finding would indicate widespread exposure to BPA in the US population.

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic used to make baby bottles and sports bottles; epoxy resins used to line the inside of food cans; is a precursor to flame retardant materials used in clothing; in dental sealants for cavity prevention. Bisphenol A has been used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, and PVC stabilizer.

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