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BPA health risks: UCSD researchers uncover new information

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2012-10-07 11:44

New research published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests BPA could harm health once it’s metabolized. According to researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, the real threat of the chemical comes once it’s broken down in the body and interferes with the endocrine system.

The finding is concerning, considering more than 90% of Americans show exposure to BPA at varying levels. But the finding could also lead to ways to promote health, according to the researchers.

BPA has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system in animal studies. There is concern that the chemical might be a contributor to childhood obesity, developmental defects, cancer and other health problems because it interferes with estrogen signaling. Exposure in utero has also been suggested to possibly contribute to male infertility.

What that means is that the chemical in plastic and a wide range of consumer products can disrupt the hormone system in ways that are especially worrisome for infants, children and babies in the womb. The possible harm from BPA is what led the FDA to ban the BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. Some countries have been strict about banning the chemical.

3D model shows BPA metabolite strongly binds with estrogen receptors

In the newest study, researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine use a 3D model to find how BPA is metabolized in the body

What they discovered is that it’s not BPA itself, but a metabolite that strongly binds to estrogen receptors.

Scientists knew that BPA itself attaches weakly to estrogen receptor, leading them to suspect something else was going on.

According to Michael E. Baker, PhD, UCSD professor of medicine, and Charlie Chandsawangbhuwana, a graduate student in the UCSD Department of Bioengineering, a compound given the name MBP was previously discovered by researchers at Hiroshima International University that is a metabolite of BPA. Scientists knew MBP has a greater affinity for attaching to estrogen receptors but how that happens wasn’t pursued.

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