One of the environmental stories that has worried some of us for years is again in the news.

There is a new report that worries about the Bisphenol A, a chemical used to harden plastics including that found in water bottles and baby bottles, was found to cause brain changes in baby monkeys.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and it looked at monkeys that had been exposed to bisphenol A levels that are considered harmless to humans by the Environmental Protection Agency. Results showed that the chemical interfered with brain cell connections vital to learning and memory.

Most toxicology studies are nonsense, since often the studies use huge doses of X and then activists cry out “BAD BAD”, while the chemical industry correctly points out that no one ever gets exposed to such a high does, and of course they can pressures the press and government to ignore the problem.

What is worrisome about this study is two things: The study used small amounts of the chemical, and another study showed that heating water, or adding hot water to the plastic bottles increased the amount of BisphenolA in the liquid.

And the BisphenolA and other plastics have properties that mimic female hormones, which gives one another reason to worry:

Our data indicate that even at this relatively low exposure level, BPA completely abolishes the synaptogenic response to estradiol. Because remodeling of spine synapses may play a critical role in cognition and mood, the ability of BPA to interfere with spine synapse formation has profound implications. This study is the first to demonstrate an adverse effect of BPA on the brain in a nonhuman primate model and further amplifies concerns about the widespread use of BPA in medical equipment, and in food preparation and storage.

Translation: BPA changes the way the brain responds to female hormones, and for babies and children this can mean fertility problems. Such hormones can cause a change in how the brain grows. Long term, this may have something to do with breast, testicular and prostate cancers becoming more common.

And then there is this report: That BPA might be associated with Metabolic syndrome.

In a laboratory study, using fresh human fat tissues, the UC team found that BPA suppresses a key hormone, adiponectin, which is responsible for regulating insulin sensitivity in the body and puts people at a substantially higher risk for metabolic syndrome.

This too makes sense, since there are links between hormones and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a a collection of metabolic problems in how the body handles food. It includes resistance to insulin, and the tendency to put on weight and be diabetic.

So are plastics behind the modern day world wide epidemic of obesity and diabetes too?

A good article that summarizes a lot of the various reports can be found HERE at Discovery magazine.

Regulation of where these plastics are used is the next step. A careful enforcement of laws against companies polluting the waters is also important.

Finally, one has to worry about the huge use of hormones at many levels of society, from birth control pills to hormones given to animals. These chemicals too have been found in the ground water.

On the other hand, one has to make a logical decision about these things.

So should all these suspicious chemicals be banned?

No, because the alternatives have their own problems. But laws banning their use in baby bottles or in toys that kids might put in their mouth would be a good place to start.

The dirty little secret is that getting rid of plastics could cause a lot more problems than it will solve.

But that doesn’t mean people should continue using plastic baby bottles, or giving your kids sodas or juice in cans or plastic bottles.

In the meanwhile,the good news is that public pressure has resulted in Walmart, ToysRUs and other companies from planning to ban the chemical from the products they sell.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes about medicine at HeyDocXanga Blog.

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