BPA Exposure May Impact Testicular Function

Despite that industry has long maintained <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">bisphenol A—BPA—is safe at current levels, science continues to point to the many adverse effects linked to the ubiquitous, polycarbonate compound.

BPA is known to imitate the hormone estrogen, acts as an anti-androgen, and is also known to affect sexual development and processes, especially in developing fetuses, infants, and children. Many, many hundreds of studies have linked BPA to cardiovascular disease, intestinal problems, brain cell connection interference, increased risks of reproductive and immune system diseases and disorders, problems with liver function testing, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. In urine tests, BPA is found in the overwhelming majority of Americans, more than 93 percent and, significantly, the chemical is found in 90 percent of all newborns.

Now, yet another emerging study has revealed that environmental exposure to BPA in the womb and during early life can lead to long-lasting injury to testicular function, said Science Daily. The study, which was conducted on animals, was presented on June 21 at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

“We are seeing changes in the testis function of rats after exposure to BPA levels that are lower than what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consider safe exposure levels for humans,” said Benson Akingbemi, PhD, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at Auburn University, quoted Science Daily. “This is concerning because large segments of the population, including pregnant and nursing mothers, are exposed to this chemical,” Akingbemi added.

Most recently, we wrote that University of Ulster scientist, Anna Soto, issued a warning that BPA can set off toxins that lead to cancer, citing the BBC. Just prior, we wrote that another emerging study revealed that neonatal exposure BPA can lead to “reproductive and endocrine alterations resembling … polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in adult rats,” a key cause of female infertility, citing Environmental Health News. We also recently wrote that another new study at Tufts University School of Medicine revealed BPA’s carcinogenic effects at much lower levels when exposure occurs when the body is developing. Earlier animal studies found exposure to trace BPA levels increases cancer risks in adulthood.

BPA is found in nearly every consumer product and most canned foods and is also found in beverage cans, a wide array of plastic products, dental sealants, thermal paper, and resins used in nautical paint, an issue in our aquatic environment.

This chemical is able to pass from a mother into her breast milk, said Science Daily, which noted that the research found BPA’s harmful effects at the cellular level, most specifically in Leydig cells, which—in the testis—secrete testosterone. Testosterone is the overarching sex hormone supporting male fertility. Following birth, Leydig cells learn to secrete testosterone; however, this process minimized in the male offspring of female rats who received BPA during pregnancy and when nursing, Akingbemi explained, according to Science Daily. Mother rats received BPA in olive oil at levels less than the daily upper limit considered safe for humans, based on body weight, said Science Daily. A control group not receiving BPA was part of the study as well.

Testosterone secretion was measured at 21, 35, and 90 days of age. Testosterone secretion per Leydig cell was significantly lower in male offspring after early-life exposure to BPA than in offspring from control unexposed animals, said Science Daily. “Although BPA exposure stopped at 21 days of age, BPA’s effects on Leydig cells, which were seen immediately at the end of exposure and at 35 days, remained apparent until 90 days of age, when the rats reached adulthood,” Akingbemi said. “Therefore, the early life period is a sensitive window of exposure to BPA and exposure at this time may affect testis function into adulthood,” he added, quoted Science Daily.

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