Bisphenol A: Hazards and sources

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical found in many hard plastics that we use every day. Higher doses have been linked to infertility and other health problems.

Products that contain BPA include water bottles, baby bottles, dental fillings and sealants, dental devices, medical devices, eyeglass lenses, DVDs and CDs, household electronic items, and sports equipment.

It can also be found in epoxy resins that are used to coat the inside of food and drinks cans.

Large amounts of BPA are produced each year. It leaches into food and water supplies, and humans are widely exposed to it.

Fast facts on bisphenol A, or BPA

Here are some key points about BPA. More detail is in the main article.

BPA is present all around us in the environment and in manufactured products.

Research has linked exposure to fertility problems, male impotence, heart disease and other conditions.

Some reports say that current levels of BPA are low and not a danger to humans.

Tips for avoiding exposure include breastfeeding infants and not buying food in plastic packaging.

Hazards

Woman drinking from hard plastic bottle.
Bisphenol A is found in the hard plastic bottles many people use every day.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor.

It can imitate the body’s hormones, and it can interfere with the production, secretion, transport, action, function, and elimination of natural hormones.

BPA can behave in a similar way to estrogen and other hormones in the human body.

Infants and young children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects of BPA.

Research suggests it can impact human health in various ways.

Reproductive disorders

In 2013, scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital published findings showing that BPA exposure can affect egg maturation in humans.

A review of previous studies, published in 2015, found evidence that BPA can interfere with endocrine function involving the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

The researchers suggested that this type of action can affect puberty and ovulation, and that it may lead to infertility.

The authors add: “The detrimental effects on reproduction may be lifelong and transgenerational.”

Male impotence may be affected, according to a study that looked at the effect of men’s exposure to BPA at work. Findings indicated that high-level exposure may increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and problems with sexual desire and ejaculation.

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Heart disease

Research has linked even low-dose BPA exposure to cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery heart disease, angina, heart attack, hypertension, and peripheral artery disease.

Findings suggest that this type of exposure could trigger arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, and blood pressure changes.

Type 2 diabetes and body weight

There is evidence that low-level exposure to BPA could contribute to insulin resistance and therefore diabetes type 2. Less reliable evidence indicates that it may also impact body weight.

Fetal brain development

Environmental exposure to BPA has the potential to affect the developing brain during gestation, according to research.

The impact includes changes in structural development, interference with estrogen regulation, DNA modifications. This could have effects on social behavior and anxiety after birth.

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