The controversial BPA aka bisphenol A makes the headlines again. And this time it is the men that should pay attention. A new study recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found strong correlations between BPA levels in the urine and sperm quality in male humans.
If you may remember, BPA is a compound used in the manufacture of certain types of plastics. Unfortunately, it leaches out from the plastic products into our food and drink.
The study looked at factory workers in China exposed to high levels of BPA in their job. This occupation exposure to BPA was measurable by urinalysis and was linked to poor semen quality, as indicated by low sperm count and decreased motility. These two properties of semen strongly determine the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg. In other words, BPA exposure impacts a man’s fertility and reproductive potential.
According to study author Dr. De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland.
BPA remains a controversial chemical and health agencies worldwide are divided in their stand on this chemical. Only two years ago, US health regulators did not believe that BPA may be dangerous, citing lack of scientific evidence as its basis. This year, the FDA finally admitted that the BPA may have some “potential health concerns.” Several American states have banned the chemical from baby products. Canada, however, is in the front line when it comes to eradicating BPA. Canadian health authorities recently placed BPA on its list of toxic (thus banned) chemicals). In Europe, BPA use is still widespread and no legislation is in place to regulate it.
Researchers believe that BPA is an endocrine-disrupting substance that plays havoc with our hormones, including sex hormones. Endocrine disruptors are also called “gender-bender” chemicals.
According to Dr. Laura V. Vandenberg of Tufts University in Boston:
“This study clearly shows that BPA exposures adversely affect men in a serious way: by influencing their semen quality, which could have obvious impacts on their ability to have children… [It] also shows that adult men are sensitive to BPA, and even small amounts of the chemical can have pretty drastic effects. What remains to be seen is whether the effects of BPA on semen quality are permanent after the kinds of low, chronic exposures that most adults experience.”
There are easy ways of protecting yourself and your family from BPA exposure.
- Food ingredients and packaging: BPA
- Bisphenol A (BPA) Information for Parents from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
- Full Update on Bisphenol A for Use in Food Contact Applications: January 2010
- Tips to avoid BPA exposure by the Environmental Working Group