Studies of humans, mice, monkeys, and sheep all point to the same scary conclusion -- that BPA wreaks havoc on the female reproductive system.
Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is an ingredient used in polycarbonate plastics, protective liners in food cans and tins, thermal coatings on paper receipts, epoxy-lined beer cans, and dental sealants. Unfortunately it’s also known to be a gender-bending endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen. BPA is so ubiquitous that 90 percent of Americans carry traces of it in their bodies, which means that there is universal fetal exposure.
Many studies have been done on the negative effects of BPA, which were first noticed in the late 1990s when researchers noticed that it appeared to disrupt hormone function. While there are still discrepancies among studies, there is one area in which all the studies point to the same scary conclusion, that BPA is an ovarian toxicant. When it comes to women and their reproductive systems, BPA is consistently linked to problems.A New York Times article explains the work of bioscientist Jodi Flaws, from the University of Illinois, who noticed the plethora of studies linking BPA with damage to developing ovaries. Dr. Flaws decided to explore this theory in greater depth. She treated young female mice with a BPA solution that was comparable to estimated human exposure in the United States, and then examined their ovaries after one month of treatment.
“The effect of the BPA was immediately obvious. Compared with normal mice, the follicles [germ cells that develop into eggs] of the treated mice were fewer and smaller. Further analysis showed that estradiol, the sex hormone essential for normal reproductive development, was not being produced at normal levels.”
Another study produced by the same laboratory earlier this year found that treated mice stopped producing viable eggs at an abnormally young age, cutting short the span of reproductive time.
These same effects have been found in studies with sheep, monkeys, and humans.
Researchers at Harvard found that 80 percent of women at an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic tested positive for BPA, and noted that higher BPA levels were linked to fewer follicles and, therefore, fewer fertile eggs. These investigators examined the follicular fluid of 357 discarded ococytes from over 120 women visiting the IVF clinic. Increased levels of BPA were linked to stunted ococytes and chromosomal damage.
With human exposure beginning in utero and continuing throughout life, the potential damage to female ovaries is very real and scary. Because it often takes a generation for changes to appear, much damage can be caused before researchers are able to pinpoint the cause; but when it comes to BPA and ovarian toxicity, there is definite consensus among scientists and study results. The best option is to avoid BPA as much as possible.