Another Study Shows BPA Possibly Causes Birth Defects
There's a lot of discussion about bisphenol A, aka BPA, and whether or not it's safe to use in drinkware and food products. According to the FDA, the chemical is "safe at the current levels occurring in food," but a lot of manufacturers still try to go without it whenever possible, and BPA-free items, like water bottles, have a lot of appeal.
And it could be for good reason.
According to Popular Science, a team of researchers found that when they fed pregnant mice low doses of BPA, their offspring had underdeveloped brain circuitry in the areas of the brain that detect when they're hungry or full.
Ordinarily, a surge of leptin occurs in a baby mouse's brain after eight days. The leptin comes from fat cells, and inhibits appetite when the body no longer needs energy. What they found in the study was that, after eight days, the mice didn't have a leptin surge in the brain, and therefore had less branching of neuronal fibers in the satiety circuitry of the brain.
What's even more interesting is that, after researchers injected leptin into the affected mice, they didn't eat less or lose weight like animals in the control portion of the study (who had the leptin surge as usual). This makes it appear that the mice permanently lost the ability to respond to leptin.
Basically, their brains couldn't tell them when they should stop eating.
"So we know how the leptin system is [important] for humans," Thomas Zoeller, an endocrinologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told Popular Science. "I don't think we can say in this case that [mice] are not humans. [Mice] have very similar regulatory systems, and I think it's an important paper."
Scott Belcher, a toxicologist from North Carolina State University, said that the study doesn't necessarily call for any sort of alarm, because researchers were already aware that BPA affects the metabolism in some way.
Zoeller did, however, say that pregnant women should exercise caution in what he called a "plastic society." He recommended taking precautions like keeping tupperware out of the dishwasher and microwave to avoid chemicals.
He also concluded that scientists need to do more research into common BPA substitutes, like BPS and BPF.
"Regulatory agencies must acknowledge, appreciate and consider these kinds of study," Zoeller said. "That's what they should be doing."
Related story: Authorities to Test BPA's Effect on Immune System