Calling all men! Could a chemical found in many common household items be undermining your masculinity
and sex appeal? A new study on laboratory mice suggests this may be the case.
For some time now, health officials have questioned the safety of a chemical called bisphenol–A, or BPA
. Just recently, the American Medical Association recognized BPA as a compound that interferes with human hormones. This decision was based partly on the result of a study showing that male mice exposed to BPA in the womb were not attracted to female mice. These males were also more likely to behave more like female mice than their male peers. Interestingly enough, female mice exposed to the chemical were unaffected.The dangers of BPA.
Researchers believe that BPA exposure short-circuits the male mice’s hormone signals. From a human perspective, this information is important because BPA can have the same effect on humans by altering the development of sexual traits in both boys and girls.
Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri says of the experiment, “BPA has been shown to suppress the early production of testosterone. In short, the females can sense the males compromised state and are less attracted to these males.”
Even though the latest research doesn’t spell out the specific outcome of BPA in humans, the experiments with mice is just cause for concern that prenatal exposure to BPA will lead to sex-specific alterations. Prior studies have linked BPA to smaller testes and lower sperm counts in male mice. In addition, female mice that had mated with a male mouse exposed to BPA had reduced pregnancy rates. All of these factors combined suggest that BPA is a toxin that needs stringent regulation.
Another study compared the urine samples and semen samples of 218 men in varying regions of China. Some of these men had no detectable BPA exposure while some had occupational exposure. Others were exposed to environmental BPA. These results revealed that the more BPA that was found in the urine, the lower the sperm count and the lower the sperm vitality and motility. Any BPA in the urine meant a greater likelihood of lowered sperm concentration, vitality and mobility compared to those who had no detectable BPA in their urine. Yet another study found decreased sexual function and satisfaction with higher levels of BPA. Though neither study could prove BPA was the cause of these problems, the studies do demonstrate an association between reproductive issues and BPA.The sources of BPA.
The Environmental Protection Agency tells us toxins from more than one million pounds of BPA pollute our environment each year. Where do these toxic compounds come from? BPA is primarily used as an ingredient to harden plastic and is commonly found in products such as water bottles, baby bottles, and microwavable dishes. Now many states are considering a BPA ban to get these products off the shelves.
Since the American Medical Association adopted the policy recognizing the dangers of this toxic chemical, they are taking things a step further by encouraging manufacturers of these plastics to label their products as containing BPA.How to avoid BPA exposure.
While we’re waiting to see what government agencies will do, there are things we can do to limit exposure.
- Choose BPA-free plastic containers, baby bottles, and toys. Though they may be pricier, the recent explosion of such products should make them easy to find.
- BPA has been found in the lining of canned food containers so choose fresh or frozen foods whenever possible.
- Baby bottles and “sippy” cups that contain polycarbonate plastics should not be heated to high temperatures or contain warm or hot liquid.
- Don’t wash polycarbonate containers with harsh detergents or in the dishwasher.
Since humans obviously can’t be used as guinea pigs, we may never know the exact effects of BPA exposure
. But the research indicates that the problems with masculine traits and sex appeal in other animals point a finger at BPA. By limiting exposure as much as possible, men can minimize these unnecessary threats to their masculinity.