In yet another study drawing a connection between bisphenol A and potential negative health effects, researchers at Duke University have linked environmental exposure to the plastics chemical with disruption of a gene necessary for proper functioning of nerve cells.
"Our study found that BPA may impair the development of the central nervous system, and raises the question as to whether exposure could predispose animals and humans to neurodevelopmental disorders," study researcher Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine/neurology and neurobiology at Duke University, said in a statement. Liedtke's research, which was conducted in animals, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Much of humans' BPA exposure comes through what they eat and drink, via containers used to keep the food. BPA's effects on the human body are of concern because some research suggests it is an endocrine disruptor -- meaning it affects the way hormones work in the body, leading to possible reproductive and developmental effects, not to mention a possible link with a number of diseases and conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. Researchers noted that BPA is known to mimic estrogen in the body; the chemical is currently banned from baby bottles and cups in the U.S.
In this newest study in rodents, researchers found that BPA could potentially have a negative effect on development of the central nervous system by shutting down a gene necessary to the process, called the Kcc2 gene.
If this gene is shut down, the researchers noted that it doesn't produce a protein that plays an important role removing chloride from neurons -- a fundamental step in proper functioning of brain cells.
"Our findings improve our understanding of how environmental exposure to BPA can affect the regulation of the Kcc2 gene," Liedtke said in the statement. "However, we expect future studies to focus on what targets aside from Kcc2 are affected by BPA. This is a chapter in an ongoing story."
Recently, the Silent Spring Institute published a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, examining potential hormone-disrupting chemicals in common everyday products.
Vinyl Shower Curtains - The phthalate DEHP has been found in vinyl products, and has been linked to respiratory problems.
Air Freshener - Fragrances not only trigger asthma but, the researchers say, have been shown to mimic estrogen, and can make breast cancer cells grow in laboratory tests.
Dryer Sheets - Like in air fresheners, the fragrances in dryer sheets can trigger asthma and mimics estrogen.
Perfumes - It goes without saying that perfumes can similarly trigger respiratory issues. Some may also mimic estrogen.
Sunscreens - Sunscreens have some of the largest concentrations of chemicals, according to the researchers, including cyclosiloxanes, according to WebMD, which produced liver and lung damage in mice in one study.
Cleaning Solutions - Even "alternative" cleaning solutions, considered by many of us to be greener and safer, tested positive for some of the 55 chemicals the researchers focused on. They suggest cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, when appropriate.
Laundry Detergent - In detergents and soaps, watch out for alkylphenols, which seem to exhibit estrogen-like properties.
Cosmetics - Many cosmetics contain parabens as preservatives, but the class of chemical is shown to act similarly to estrogen. However, like many potential endocrine disruptors, parabens have been approved up to a certain amount by the FDA for use in cosmetics, and most are used at levels far below the upper limit.
Shampoo And Conditioner - Along with cleaning solutions, the researchers tested "alternative" shampoos and conditioners and discovered potentially harmful chemicals. In fact, according to the press release: A consumer who used the tested alternative surface cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, laundry detergent, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner, facial cleanser and lotion and toothpaste would be exposed to 19 of the target compounds. Like cosmetics, many may also contain parabens.
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