BPA could be affecting desire to exercise

running on the beach
CC BY 2.0 Ross Websdale

Study assessed the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals on mice's desire to exercise and found that it makes them lazier.

A new study out of the University of Missouri has assessed the effect of bisphenol A (BPA) and ethinyl estradiol (EE) on mice’s desire to exercise. Researchers published the study in the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, explaining that mice exposed to these chemicals were lazier and had slower metabolisms.

These chemicals are known hormone (endocrine system) disruptors and are thought to affect mammals in many different ways, from tumors to birth defects to developmental disorders to prostate and ovarian cancers. They are also considered to be obesogens (tending to cause obesity).

This study is one of very few to consider whether BPA and EE actually create a tendency toward physical inactivity, which is a leading cause of obesity.

Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor of biomedical sciences and study author, explains:

“Mice exposed to endocrine disruptors move around less, are more likely to sleep, and engage in less voluntary physical activity… Female mice exposed to BPA and EE were less active than the control mice. They moved around less at night – when these mice are most typically active – and moved more slowly, drank less water, and spent more time sleeping.”

It’s an interesting discovery, since it leads to obvious questions about how exposure to endocrine disruptors affects human behaviour. Lacking the desire to exercise can predispose people and animals to metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer, according to Rosenfeld.

Bisphenol A is found in many plastics, can linings, and receipts. Ethinyl estradiol is the estrogen in birth control pills. Both are chemicals with which humans come into contact frequently, which makes these findings even more alarming. Despite various claims that BPA is safe at the low levels typically consumed by people (which is what the FDA says), it seems there’s always new evidence showing that endocrine disruptors are better to avoid than to ignore.

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