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The Great Endocrine Disruptor: How Bisphenol A Influences Sexual Development and Behavior Melissa-Marie Marks The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery
most consumers still have no idea what Bisphenol-A actually is. baby formula bottles. it has an annual production capacity in excess of six-billion pounds (vom Saal et al 2006). polyvinyl chloride plastic products (such as shower curtain liners and vinyl pool toys). dental sealants. for many years now. where it is found. one will find quite a few plastic products labeled “Bisphenol-A Free” or “BPA Free”. BisphenolA (BPA) is “a high production volume chemical used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. and also in thermal printer paper taking the form of cash register . But despite the “BPA Free” campaign. has been one of the highest-volume chemicals in worldwide production. On television and commercials. but only a handful of states in the US have followed suit. Japan. polycarbonate plastic products (such as plastic children’s toys. What is Bisphenol-A? Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an estrogenic endocrine-disrupting monomer that. there are advertisements exclaiming the wonders of a new plastic toy that is safe for children because it does not contain harmful BPA. Due to numerous government-funded studies declaring the potential danger of BPA. it is more important now than ever to inform the public of the harmful effects of Bisphenol-A. and what it does to the environment and the human body.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 2 The Great Endocrine Disruptor: How Bisphenol A Influences Sexual Development and Behavior Browsing many grocery and department stores today.” BPA is found in the linings of food cans. and France. and sports bottles) (vom Saal et al 2006). Denmark. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program. In order for a world-wide ban on the estrogen-mimic BPA to be enacted. it has been banned from baby products in Canada.
Is there a “safe” dose of BPA that humans might be exposed to? The safe or reference dose of BPA for human exposure is 50 µg/kg/day. “…rate of growth and sexual maturation. immune function. therefore. and studies conducted in Japan and the US have shown that BPA leaches from landfills into the surrounding ecosystem (vom Saal et al 2005). Heat and/or acids speed up the leaching process. it most likely contains BPA. Unless a plastic product is specifically labeled “BPA Free” or “Bisphenol-A Free”.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 3 receipts (Biedermann 2010).” (vom Saal & Hughes 2005). brain chemistry. amniotic fluid. and behavior are all affected by exposure to low doses of BPA. over 30 publications utilizing vertebrate and invertebrate animal studies state that “significant effects occurred below the predicted ‘safe’ or reference dose…” How do these animal studies pertain to humans? Recent reports state that the median BPA level in human blood (including fetal blood) and tissues is actually higher than the level that causes harmful effects in mice. . Unborn fetuses are exposed to BPA through their mothers’ contact with the chemical. brain structure. enzyme activity. However. and “repeated washing of polycarbonate products have all been shown to result in an increase in the rate of leaching of BPA” (vom Saal et al 2005). reproductive organ function. and placental tissue at birth. Drinking and bathing water are another potential source of human exposure. Measurable amounts of BPA have been found in the human umbilical cord (Kubo et al 2003). maternal and fetal plasma. hormone levels in blood. BPA has also been found in the breastmilk of lactating mothers (Rubin et al 2006). BPA leaches into food and drinks from their storage containers. Indeed. fertility. How are humans exposed to BPA? The ester bonds in BPA-based polymers are subject to hydrolysis and.
(Maffini et al 2006).” In one study conducted in 1999. Bisphenol-A was found to cause meiotic aneuploidy. These findings were similar to those observed in other human populations (Calafat et al 2005).469 humans to see how quickly BPA was cleared from the body. The findings of these studies showed that BPA levels did not decrease with increased fasting time. In two separate studies involving female mice. or both (Stahlhut et al 2009). reduced fertility. suggesting that either there was a substantial nonfood exposure to BPA. under the hypothesis that BPA levels in the urine of fasting humans should decrease with increased fasting time. female mice were exposed prenatally to low doses of BPA and subsequently displayed first estrus (sexual maturity) at a significantly earlier age than mice that were not exposed. Female mice exposed to environmentally relevant doses of BPA also displayed morphological and functional alterations in their reproductive tracts including decreased weight of the vagina and endometrial lamina propria and increased proliferation of epithelial cells in the endometrial glands. “Perinatal exposure to environmentally relevant BPA doses results in morphological and functional alterations of the male and female genital tract and mammary glands that may predispose the tissue to earlier onset of disease. it accumulated in body fat. and mammary and prostate cancer.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 4 How does BPA affect the human body? One study conducted in the United States on 394 humans found that BPA was present in the urine of 95% of the population. A similar study was later conducted on 1. The Reproductive System According to Maffini et al (2006). or an abnormal amount of chromosomes in oocytes (germ cells that turn into eggs or .
exposure of pregnant female mice to low levels of BPA from day 8 of pregnancy through day 16 of lactation resulted in permanent effects on the brains of the offspring. including demasculinization of males and defeminization of females. specifically constriction where it enters the bladder (Timms et al 2005). their male offspring showed increased prostate size and malformations of the urethra.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 5 ovums when fertilized) (Hunt et al 2003 and Susiarjo et al 2007). and those with the highest levels were more likely to produce sperm with decreased motility and morphology and increased sperm DNA damage (Meeker et al 2010). urine and semen samples were collected from 190 human males. Sex differences (of behavior) observed in control groups of mice were not observed in the offspring of the BPA-exposed mothers. 89% of these men had measurable amounts of BPA in their urine. Male germ cells are also at risk of harmful effects due to BPA exposure. The study concluded “These data indicate that . Bisphenol-A levels were significantly higher in the group of women experiencing consecutive miscarriages (Sugiura-Ogasawara et al 2005). 45 of whom had a history of three or more consecutive first-trimester miscarriages and 32 of whom had no history of live birth or infertility. and according to a study involving 77 human women. Altered Sexual Behavior According to a study conducted by Rubin et al (2006). About 40-70% of spontaneous abortions in humans are linked to aneuploidy. At an infertility clinic in Boston. When female mice pregnant with male fetuses were exposed to levels of BPA at doses below the range of exposure by pregnant human women.
and therefore BPA will continue to be in production. and cutlery instead of plastic. it can be hypothesized that there will never be any industry-funded studies showing the great dangers of BPA. Reducing Exposure to Bisphenol A Though there have been over 100 government-funded studies done indicating the harmful effects of BPA. dishes. BPA is used extensively worldwide in the production of thousands of different products that are in great demand by consumers. • Reduce exposure to cash register receipts and when you must handle them. be sure to avoid #7 plastics. • Buy wooden or cloth toys for your children. consumers and parents can take small steps towards reducing their exposure to Bisphenol-A in the following ways: • Use glass.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 6 BPA may be capable of altering important events during critical periods of brain development. wash hands thoroughly immediately after contact. no industry-funded studies have shown statistically significant harm to humans from exposure to BPA.” (Rubin et al 2006). • Reduce or eliminate the consumption of canned foods or choose canned foods packaged in cans that do not contain BPA (such as the brand “Eden Organics”). . or make sure that the plastic toys you buy do not contain BPA. and avoid putting any plastic dishes or containers in the microwave or dishwasher. • Breastfeed. If you must use plastic. ceramic. storage containers. or stainless steel drinking bottles. Until a substitute of equal or cheaper value is put on the market. All liquid infant formula and some powdered infant formula cans are lined with resin containing BPA. For now.
companies will stop supplying them. make sure your dentist does not use products which have BPA as an ingredient. and federal government officials and tell them about your concern over the harmful effects of BPA. .THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 7 • Before getting dental sealants or fillings. • Become an activist. Ask them to work toward legislation to ban BPA from all products that can leach the chemical into food and drinks. state. Write to your local. Write to your favorite canned good and/or storage container companies and ask them to make BPA-Free alternatives. Production is based on supply and demand…if enough people stop demanding harmful products.
et al. Murray. P. S. 179-186. 45. 113(4): 391-395. (2003). (2003). Perinatal exposure to Bisphenol-A alters peripubertal mammary gland development in mice.. Kubo. Low dose effects of bisphenol A on sexual differentiation of the brain and behavior in rats. Urinary concentrations of Bisphenol-A and 4-Nonylphenol in a human reference population. M. (2005). Reproductive Toxicology.. 13... Induction of mammary gland ductal hyperplasias and carcinoma in situ following fetal bisphenol A exposure. et al. Transfer of Bisphenol A from thermal printer paper to the skin. 24.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 8 References Biedermann. et al. Endocrine disruptors and reproductive health: The case of bisphenol-A.V. et al. Munoz-de-Toro. 23(3): 383-390. et al. Correspondence. Environmental Health Perspectives. (2007). Chapel Hill bisphenol A expert panel consensus statement: Integration of mechanisms.M.. Hunt. J. Bisphenol A exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse. et al.J. Semen quality and sperm DNA damage in relation to urinary Bisphenol A among men from an infertility clinic [Abstract].D. et al. (2010). DOI 10. Springer Online. T. K. (2006). 254-255. Endocrinology. (2010). Reproductive Toxicology. effects in animals and potential to impact human health at current levels of exposure. Maffini. Reprod Toxicol. .1007/s00216-010-3936-9. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. (2007). (2005). 131-138. 546-553.. Calafat. Meeker. M. et al. A. Analytical Bioanalytical Chemistry.. Current Biology. 146(9): 4138-4147. 345-356.. Neuroscience Research.A.
. (2007).R. 7014-7019. PNAS. 3(1). et al. Human Reproduction.G.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 9 Newbold.W. Endocrinology. (2010).N. (2009). 148(1): 1-24.M. et al. Rubin. (2007). Estrogenic chemicals in plastic and oral contraceptives disrupt development of the fetal mouse prostate and urethra. Environmental Health Perspectives. (2005). et al. Reprod Toxicol. M. Timms. or both. et al. Evidence of altered brain sexual differentiation in mice exposed perinatally to low. substantial non-food exposure. Bisphenol A exposure in utero disrupts early oogenesis in the mouse. B. (2007). environmentally relevant levels of bisphenol A. 114(1): 1-4.. R. Toxicological Sciences. et al. Exposure to environmentally relevant doses of xenoestrogen Bisphenol-A alters development of the female mouse mammary gland.. Exposure to bisphenol A is associated with recurrent miscarriage. Susiarjo. 63-70. Stahlhut. 20(8): 2325-2329. L. et al. B... PLoS Genetics. et al. R. R. Endocrinology. Bisphenol A data in NHANES suggest longer than expected halflife.. . 147(8): 3681-3691. 10324(2): 253-258. 102(19).S. Vandenberg. (2006). Long-term adverse effects of neonatal exposure to Bisphenol A on the murine female reproductive tract. Sugiura-Ogasawara. M. 117(5): 784-789. Sharpe. Is it time to end concerns over the estrogenic effects of bisphenol A.. (2005).
& Welshons. 100. An extensive new literature concerning low-dose effects of bisphenol A shows the need for a new risk assessment. II. . F. Large effects from small exposures. Environmental Research. Environmental Health Perspectives.THE GREAT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR: HOW BISPHENOL A INFLUENCES SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR 10 Vom Saal. The importance of positive controls in low-dose research on bisphenol A.V. W. Vom Saal. F. (2006). (2005).S. C. & Hughes. 113(8). 50-76. 926-933.S.
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