A new study has linked bisphenol A—BPA—to obesity. For those familiar with this blog, we’ve long written about the links between the ubiquitous polycarbonate plastics chemical and myriad health effects, including obesity.
Scientist warn, noted the Huffington Post, that even tiny amounts of synthesized substances, which can be found in many, many consumer products, is sufficient to mix up hormones and how they work in our bodies. This can include, for instance, our fat cells taking in more fat or confusing the pancreas into releasing too much insulin, said the Huffington Post. Insulin is the hormone responsible to regulate the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates in the body. BPA is the most commonly found endocrine disrupter.
“When you eat something with BPA, it’s like telling your organs that you are eating more than you are really eating,” said Angel Nadal, a BPA expert at the Miguel Hernandez University in Spain, wrote the Huffington Post. Nadal’s most recent research was just published in PLoS ONE, and revealed that BPA triggers nearly double the insulin needed to break food down; an issue, given that insulin can desensitize the body to itself in time, which can lead to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.
Here’s what happens, according to the research: BPA fools a receptor into thinking it is the natural hormone estrogen. Estrogen is an insulin regulator, noted the Huntington Post. The researchers discovered that even the smallest amounts of BPA—they said, as little as one-quarter of one-billionth of one gram—was sufficient. When the researchers stripped receptors from the study mice, the effect disappeared. Of note, this evidence proved they pinpointed BPA’s chemical mechanism, something other research has been unable to accomplish, said The Huffington Post.
The response was even greater in laboratory tests of human cells. “That pretty much nails it,” Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in this study, told The Huffington Post. Blumberg noted that although previous links existed between BPA and metabolic problems, because there was no clear-cut understanding about how the phenomenon occurred, the connection was doubted.
“People are seeing effects of BPA down to 1000-fold below [Nadal’s threshold],” said Frederick vom Saal, another expert in endocrine disruptors at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “It takes so little of this chemical to cause harm,” he added, said The Huffington Post.
Industry continues to disagree. “BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today and has a safety track record of 50 years,” Kathryn Murray St. John, spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, an industry lobbying group, told The Huffington Post.
We’ve written about at least two BPA-breast cancer links and links to increased anxiety and depression in preschoolers exposed to BPA in the womb and that BPA int. BPA has been linked to toxic injury and implications in 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, premature puberty, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and other female fertility and endocrine issues, and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems in males as young as the developing fetus.
Government agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services, have never issued final decisions on BPA’s effects despite that BPA is known to leach into products, whether heated or cold, and into the skin, from items such as paper money, toilet paper, and receipts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not ban the substance; however, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are conducting the $30 million research project to understand BPA’s effects and should have the results of this study to the FDA sometime this year.