Here’s a shocker: BPA (the chemical component found in plastics) has health risks! Researchers in Canada did testing on placental cells to find out if this chemical, commonly found in most Americans (including pregnant women), and discovered that it does have a detrimental effect on the placenta.
The most worrisome part of this research study is that the worst damage was done in the lowest levels of BPA instead of the highest. The researchers were careful to limit the amounts of BPA to the average levels found in most people.
From a synopsis of the study in Environmental Health News:
These results indicate that BPA, at levels within the range a pregnant woman is likely to be exposed, can damage human placental cells in ways that could affect fetal development.
BPA impacted cell death through two different mechanisms. Higher doses of BPA increased the rate of apoptosis type cell death but lower doses weakened cell membranes, an effect that also damaged and ultimately killed the placental cells.
The altered timing and amounts of cell death can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preeclampsia, prebirth growth restriction, prematurity and pregnancy loss. While the results do not show BPA causes these conditions in people, the study provides a model for how BPA may change the signals and chemical controls that guide the development of important pregnancy cells.
Importantly, the exposure levels tested are similar to those measured in pregnant women’s blood, placental tissue and chord blood.
This work was done in cultured human placental cells, a techniqe that has both benefits and drawbacks. One advantage of using this type of cell culture model instead of a laboratory animal model is that it uses human cells. Rodent placenta structure is very different from humans so BPA may produce different effects in rodents than humans.
A potential drawback of cell culture, however, is that it requires the direct application of BPA, a process that bypasses metabolism and therefore the opportunity for BPA to be changed into a less active form. To control for this, the researchers were careful to use a range of doses that have been measured in human blood.
The results of this study provide yet more evidence that exposure to BPA is a potental threat to human reproductive health.
Yet some people say that BPA is safe, even though numerous studies highlight its danger? The FDA has even moderately reversed its stance, now saying that there is “some concern” for children’s health.
Yet, we continue to hear from the chemical industry’s premier apologist for BPA, Steven Hentges, that the hormone-altering chemical is perfectly safe for humans of any age and at any level.
Mr. Hentges told The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton [recently] that, “The science continues to support the safety of BPA.”
You can limit your exposure to BPA by buying reusable stainless bottles for yourself and your kids, or at least BPA-free bottles.