Bisphenol-A (BPA) is its name and disrupting the our hormone function is its game. We should all be aware of what BPA is, the health conditions it’s associated with and where it’s lurking in our environment because this chemical is dangerous and it is found in many of the products we use each and every day.
The health problems linked to BPA are astounding. A mounting body of research shows that BPA is an endocrine disruptor that mimics our hormones, therefore interrupting their normal functioning. This is serious given how much our delicate hormone balance influences our health. Disruption of hormone levels due to BPA have been linked to breast cancer1, prostate cancer2, cardiovascular disease3, diabetes4, obesity5, infertility6, birth defects7, miscarriages8, developmental disorders in children9, premature puberty in young girls 10, severe attention deficit disorder 11, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body (like our limbs), sexual development problems12-14, and feminizing of males or masculine effects on females.15-17 It seems like a lovely substance, doesn’t it? No doubt the evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would have loved to douse that poisonous apple with a nice shiny layer of BPA. She might have permanently poisoned Snow White if she had.
A new study even shows that BPA negatively affects not just those who eat and touch BPA laden items, but it also affects multiple generations of their children.18 This study, published by the journal Endocrinology, studied trans-generational effects of BPA on mice. One group of mice was fed BPA laden food and another group was fed their regular diets. Behavior was monitored and so was the behavior of three subsequent generations. Genetic testing was also conducted on all of the animals.
Remarkably, the mice that were exposed to BPA in the womb were less social and more isolated than the other group, as was the case for their children and their children’s children. These mice spent less time exploring, playing and engaging in friendly behavior with the other mice. This is not the normal behavior of mice and shows that BPA can influence brain activity for generations. Notably and frighteningly, the BPA exposed mice were exposed to levels of BPA that humans would normally be exposed to via our diets. While mice behavior and human behavior are obviously not the same, mice are a good laboratory model for what could happen to humans. The researchers even likened the behavioral issues they found in the BPA-exposed mice to autistic children and children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder .
To make matters worse, the same study found that 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their blood. Forget watching a horror movie, all we need to do to get a good scare is learn about the health effects of BPA and its ubiquity in our environment. That is, if we do not educate ourselves on which materials contain it and don’t make efforts to avoid it.
Thankfully, with a bit of education we can steer clear of BPA as easily as a graceful decline of a receipt or the simple renouncement of tin can usage. BPA is found in quite a few unsuspecting places, which is why doing one’s homework really pays off. Your jaw just may drop when you learn how many places BPA can be found, but thankfully there are plenty of alternatives. Education really is power and this has never been truer than in the case of the malicious, microscopic villain that is BPA.
Image credit Flickr: p_a_h
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18. Edwards M, Gatewood JD, Wolstenholme JT, et al. Gestational Exposure to Bisphenol A Produces Transgenerational Changes in Behaviors and Gene Expression. Endocrinology 2012. Published online before print.