Higher BPA Levels Linked to Heart Risks

The polycarbonate plastics chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), has been linked to a large and growing array of adverse health effects. Now, another study has linked the estrogenic hormone mimicker to increased heart risks.

The research revealed that people with increased BPA urine levels may be likelier to suffer from narrowing of their coronary arteries, said WebMD. Of concern is that just about everyone tests with detectable BPA levels, said David Melzer, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Exeter in England, wrote WebMD. And, because of its ubiquity and that it has been used in a growing variety of consumer products for over 40 years, BPA’s presence is inescapable.

“The people who had narrowed arteries had higher levels of BPA in their urine,” Melzer told WebMD, noting that his study reveals a link between BPA and coronary artery width (coronary arteries supply blood to the heart). The study, which appears in PLoS One, does not prove that BPA narrowed arteries. Still, said Melzer, “We need to take it seriously that BPA may be adding to the other classical risk factors for heart disease such as high lipids, high blood pressure, and smoking.”

While a chemical industry spokesperson said the study does not prove anything, environmental group scientists say the study adds to the proof of links between BPA and cardiac disease, said WebMD. This is the fourth Melzer team study to find the link.

Experts describe the ubiquitous phenol-acetone chemical as being an estrogenic mimicker and hormone disrupter that leeches from food/beverage containers into foods. Yet, BPA is U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for use in shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic and durable epoxy resins, which are used in food/beverage container linings. BPA leaches into the skin and into products—hot or cold—from common items (paper money, toilet paper, receipts). An anti-androgen, BPA blocks hormone activity; mimics the powerful female hormone, estrogen; and can interrupt sexual development and processes, especially in developing fetuses, infants, and children.

The studies on which we have written—and hundreds have been conducted—have linked BPA to a wide and growing range of health effects that seem to affect nearly every bodily system: Brain tumors, hormone-sensitive cancers, brain and social behaviors, increased anxiety and depression, brain cell connection interference, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, increased risks of immune system diseases and disorders, liver function and intestinal problems, and cardiac issues and fat cell confusion and pancreatic issues relating to diabetes. Most recently, behavior problems were linked to tooth fillings containing the chemical.

BPA’s links to reproductive system diseases are staggering and span to fetal development, likely due to its hormone-mimicking and -blocking properties. Issues include effects on uterine health and mammalian reproduction; a deadly uterine infection; premature puberty; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues; and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. Significantly, BPA’s effects have been found to be immediate, long lasting, and trans-generational, meaning effects could carry years into the future. Despite all this, the FDA said the information on BPA does not suggest that very low BPA exposure through diet is unsafe, said Web MD.

For the new study, Melzer reviewed 591 men and women in the U.K. who were evaluated for heart disease and received an angiography to evaluate arterial health. The group was classified into normal (120), intermediate (86), or severe (385) coronary heart disease, said WebMD. “We only had 385 with severe [coronary artery disease],” Melzer says. “Even in that relatively small group we found very clear evidence of a link of BPA exposure with coronary artery narrowing,” he said. “BPA might be more active in the body than we previously thought…. What we know is, it’s absorbed from the gut and processed in the liver…. How much goes through the liver without being processed is a matter of controversy. It seems to circulate in the blood and get into tissues.” In a prior study, Melzer discovered that urinary BPA levels helped predict those who would be diagnosed with heart disease.

The new findings add to growing evidence of a link between BPA and heart disease, said Sonya Lunder, MPH, senior research analyst at the Environmental Working Group. Researchers are ”knitting together a compelling case about this everyday toxin that could affect the lives of millions,” Lunder added. Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) agrees. In March, noted WebMD, the FDA rejected the Council’s request to ban BPA in food packaging.

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