BPA aka bisphenol A is in the headlines again but this time it has nothing to do with baby bottles and formulas. It is more about where babies come from – male fertility.
The research institute Kaiser Permanente reports that increased BPA levels in the urine of men can mean decreased sexual function that would desire, erectile dysfunction, and lower semen strength.
Why aren’t we surprised? Because BPA is quite known to be a human endocrine disrupter that creates havoc with hormones – a gender bender chemical, you might say.
The Kaiser Permanente researchers conducted a 5-year study of 427 factory workers in China. One group of workers employed as packagers, technical supervisors, laboratory technicians and maintenance workers in manufacturing facilities where BPA is used as an ingredient, the other group did not. The results showed significantly higher levels of BPA in BPA manufacturing facilities and these levels are correlated to sexual dysfunction.
According to study lead author Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.
“Because the BPA levels in this study were very high, more research needs to be done to see how low a level of BPA exposure may have effects on our reproductive system. This study raises the question: Is there a safe level for BPA exposure, and what is that level? More studies like this, which examine the effect of BPA on humans, are critically needed to help establish prevention strategies and regulatory policies.”
Although this has been previously observed in animal studies, this is supposedly the first study in humans to link BPA levels in the urine with sexual dysfunction
The levels measured were 50 times higher than what were measured in men in the general US population, indicating very high exposure. However, there is evidence that the endocrine disruption even occurs at low levels of long-term exposure.
Dr. Li continues to explain:
“This is the first human study to show that high urine BPA is associated with lower male sexual function. Also, even among men exposed to BPA from only environmental sources (no occupational exposure and with average BPA level lower than the average observed in the American population), there were indications of an increased risk of sexual dysfunction.”
Although BPA is slowly being phased out in the manufacturing of plastics for food packaging, it is still being used in the manufacture of non-food related plastics. Workers in these factories are exposed to high amounts of this chemical each day.