Here is another plastic component that seems to have a detrimental effect on our health. And they are to be found in your medical devices like IV bags and tubes, catheters, and even bypass machines. The chemical has been identified as cyclohexanone, an organic compound used as a component in the production of nylon products.
Medical procedures that require blood to be circulated through plastic tubing outside the body (e.g. heart bypass surgery or kidney dialysis) have been associated with side effects such as
- dysfunction of the sense of taste
- short term memory loss
- swelling and fatigue
These side effects are normally temporary and resolve a few weeks or months after the surgery. However, for the heart or the dialysis patients, these side effects can have some consequences on postsurgery quality of life and recovery.
Researchers the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine searched for the chemical that may cuase these side effects. After isolating and identifying the chemical in question, researchers tested cyclohexanone in laboratory rats.
The researchers then injected rats with either a salt solution or a salt solution containing cyclohexanone and measured heart function. Rats that got only salt solution pumped approximately 200 microliters of blood per heartbeat and had an average heart rate of 358 beats per minute, while rats injected with cyclohexanone pumped only about 150 microliters of blood per heartbeat with an average heart rate of 287 beats per minute.
Aside from causing less blood pumping at a much slower rate, cyclohexanone also induced weaker heart contractions in the test animals – a contraction reduction of about 50%. In addition, the animals exposed to cyclohexanone had
- less sensitive mechanism that helps control and maintain blood pressure
- increased fluid retention
- developed swelling in the rats
It seems that cyclohexanone leaches out from the plastic-made devices and goes into the substances that enter our body. This is not the first plastic component to leach out from plastic-made containers, and devices. Remember bisphenol A (BPA)? The case of BPA as well as this study may have strong implications in plastics manufacturing.
However, it is too early to say how exactly cyclohexanone is causing all this problems. More studies are needed to have in-depth understanding of the mechanisms involved.
According to the researchers
“We would never recommend that patients decline this type of treatment if they need it. On the contrary, such technologies are life-saving medical advances, and their benefits still far outweigh the risks of the associated side effects. As scientists, we are simply trying to understand how the side effects are triggered and what the best method will be to mitigate, and ultimately remedy, these morbidities.”