As you know from my previous writings on the subject, BPA or Bisphenol A is an organic compound used in a huge number of retail products, including plastic food and beverage containers, kitchen appliances, electronics (casings) and packaging of all kinds. It is even included in the resins used to line soda, soup and vegetable cans. It is currently known to be an “endocrine disrupter” or a synthetic chemical known to mimic the behavior of estrogen. It has been found to disrupt normal heart muscle function and prompt arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. BPA has come under increasing scrutiny by medical researchers for this endocrine-hormone-disrupting potential and has gotten a lot of media attention for this. This new information proves that it can interfere with reproductive, egg and fat cell development, as well as with thyroid hormone and neurological functions. The chemical has also been labled an “obesegen”, meaning it is linked to conditions that can prompt obesity and diabetes.

Suspected of being hazardous to humans since as early as the 1930s, current concerns about the use of bisphenol A in consumer products began in 2008. At that time several governments and their agencies issued reports questioning its’ safety. The news media grabbed the story and many retailers quietly removed products containing BPA from store shelves. Up until now, the main concern have been regarding the exposure of fetuses, infants and young children to products loaded with the compound.

But there is new, disheartening (excuse the pun), news. A study released this week by researchers at the University of Cincinnati says that exposure to bisphenol A may increase heart disease in women. And guess what? New research proves that these effects can occur at very low levels of exposure. In other words, you don’t have to drink more than a couple sodas a day or use more than 1 or 2 plastic food storage containers.

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I found this online at Science Daily and it freaked me out. I mean, they are finding that toxic chemicals in plastics may be the cause of metabolic syndrome, a condition that makes people fat, slow and sick. This report was based on new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and this research implicates the primary chemical used to produce hard plastics-bisphenol A (BPA)-as a “risk factor” for metabolic syndrome and its consequences. When I saw this, I was immediately feeling anger as I thought “what if they find” that plastic is making America obese? I mean, wouldn’t that just take the cake?

Getting back to the Science, this report states that in a laboratory study, using fresh human fat tissues, the UC team found that BPA suppresses a key hormone, adiponectin, which is responsible for regulating insulin sensitivity in the body and puts people at a substantially higher risk for metabolic syndrome. This syndrome, as I’ve read about it online, is also a cause of Diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of risk factors that include lower responsiveness to insulin (insulin resistance) and higher blood levels of sugar and lipids (cholesterol). According to the American Heart Association, about 25 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome. Left untreated, the disorder can lead to life-threatening health problems such as coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

And they are saying that some chemical in plastic bottles, forks, containers, bags, etc.. is causing this? Seriously. I find this unsettling.

The article also refers to Nira Ben-Jonathan, PhD. This doctor and her team are the first to report scientific evidence on the health effects of BPA at environmentally relevant doses equal to “average” human exposure. Previous studies have primarily focused on animal studies and high doses of BPA. Think of how many bottles, forks, bags, wrappers, bowls, etc… your family uses every day.

Scientists are now estimating that over 80% of the people they have tested have measurable BPA in their bloodstream. The UC study was designed to mimic a realistic human exposure (between 0.1 and 10 nanomolar) so that a more direct correlation between human exposure and health effects could be drawn.

Ben-Jonathan is a professor of Cancer and cell Biology at UC and has studied BPA for more than 10 years. She has been quoted as saying that “people have serious concerns about the potential health effects of BPA. As the scientific evidence continues to mount against the chemical, it should be given serious attention to minimize future harm.”

“Experimenting with human tissue is the closest we can come to testing the effects of BPA in humans. It’s a very exciting breakthrough because epidemiological studies looking at BPA effects on humans are difficult since most people have already been exposed to it,” she concedes.

To conduct this study, the UC team collected fresh fat tissue from Cincinnati patients undergoing several types of breast or abdominal surgery. These samples included three types of fat tissue: breast, subcutaneous and visceral (around the organs). This tissue was immediately taken to the laboratory and incubated with different concentrations of BPA or estrogen for six hours to observe how the varied amounts of BPA affected adiponectin levels. The effects of BPA were then compared to those of estradiol, a natural form of human estrogen.

The researchers found that exposing human tissues to BPA levels within the range of common human exposure resulted in suppression of a hormone that protects people from metabolic syndrome.

“These results are especially powerful because we didn’t use a single patient, a single tissue source or a single occurrence,” Nira Ben-Johnathan has noted. “We used different fat tissues from multiple patients and got the same negative response to BPA.”

According to the source quoted in Science Daily, UC’s Eric Hugo, PhD, Terry Brandebourg, PhD, Jessica Woo, PhD, J. Wesley Alexander, MD, and Christ Hospital surgeon Jean Loftus, MD, participated in this study. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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