What is Bisphenol A

bpa

The chemical compound Bisphenol-A is used to make clear plastic products, including baby bottles, water bottles, CDs, DVDs, and household products like food storage containers. It’s also used to coat the insides of food and drink cans. The chemical leaches into food and drink when it comes into contact with it, especially when heat is present, as when a plastic water bottle is left in the sun.

It’s been known since the 1930s that BPA can disrupt human hormones, from research that indicated the chemical could cause estrus to occur in rats whose ovaries had been removed. Since then, many other studies have suggested that BPAs increase estrogen activity in humans: they can cause early onset of puberty in girls, and produce an overabundance of estrogen in boys.

Certain cancers feed on estrogen, which is why BPAs’ hormone-raising properties have been linked to cancer. There’s also evidence that the chemical can contribute to obesity, and it may cause both male and female infertility. A 2009 study from Yale University showed that mice who’d been exposed to BPA as fetuses had uterine linings that were hypersensitive to estrogen. This meant that they often got pregnant easily, but had trouble carrying babies to term. The BPA altered the mice’s fertility genes. This effect may also be present in humans, and because it doesn’t show itself until a woman is of childbearing age, it may be many years before we see the true scope of BPA’s effects on women’s fertility.

BPA may also affect male fertility. A Kaiser Permanente study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, examined 514 factory workers in China and measured the levels of BPA in their urine. The five-year-long study found that men who had higher BPA concentrations were two to four times more likely to have low sperm quality: this included a lower concentration of sperm in their semen, lower sperm motility, and lower sperm vitality. The more BPA in their urine, the worse their sperm quality was. Even when they had lower BPA levels than the average America, their sperm was still affected.


 
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