BPA may Harm The Heart, Especially in Women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Researchers have added another potential risk of exposure to BPA. According to animal studies, BPA may harm the heart, especially in women, perhaps because of estrogen receptors in the heart. BPA stimulates estrogen activity. The new link that BPA can especially harm women’s hearts correlates with research implicating BPA exposure as a risk of breast cancer in women.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Cincinnati, revealed that live heart cells taken from female mice or rats, and then exposed to BPA, estrogen, or BPA and estrogen caused disturbance in the electrical signals in heart cells, producing heart rhythm disturbances. Abnormal activity of the heart from exposure to BPA was not found in males.

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A lead researcher, Scott Belcher, PhD, says, "Low doses of BPA markedly increased the frequency of arrhythmic events. The effect of BPA on these cardiac arrhythmias was amplified when exposed to estradiol, the major estrogen hormone in humans." The researchers conducted the study because they suspected BPA might have a harmful effect on the heart that should be added to the list of health hazards associated with exposure to BPA from plastic food containers and some plastic water bottles.

The scientists used cellular imaging technique to identify the effect of BPA on the heart. The authors say BPA exposure “rapidly stimulated contraction by altering control of the concentrations of free calcium inside the heart cell but only in heart muscle cells from females, showing that these effects were sex-specific." The findings could mean that BPA exposure is especially harmful following a heart attack, a time when heart cells are already irritable.

The research has important implications as lawmakers decide whether to ban BPA for its potential health risks in humans. The study shows that BPA exposure may have a harmful effect on the heart, especially in women.

University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

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