Well, if MacGuire was talking about getting into toxicology research on plastics, he was right on. EHP has published a study showing that the additive BPA can cause cells to suppress adiponectin. That would cause insensitivity to insulin and may be behind “metabolic syndrome“. Let’s pause for a moment and think about that name. That’s got to be the worst name for a syndrome ever. It could only be more vague by being called ‘syndrome’. I prefer something that creates a nice visual, like bronchiolitis obliterans. Nothing like an obliterated lung to get your attention. I propose cardiolipoinsulinobesity disease. Hmmm…okay, we’ll stick with metabolic syndrome…or the slightly more technical, “F’ed up”. Seriously, it’s also called insulin resistance syndrome. It’s symptoms include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, general inflammation, prothrombic state (meaning you’re more likely to stroke out). Sweet.
It’s not clear how the BPA does this, though it’s likely due to it’s ability to disrupt hormones. In the study, estradiol (the potent estrogen) had the same effects on breast and abdominal fat tissue. They used human fat tissues that were removed from patients undergoing other procedures. The one issue I have here is that it may be that those undergoing the procedures have cells that react differently than the rest of the population. The samples came from patients getting breast reduction sugery, a tummy tuck, or gastric bypass. The people may have bodies that like to build up fat anyway, especially in the last two. Even if this is true, however, it at least means that some people are effected by BPA; in fact, it may be those who can least afford it.
There was a wide variety of effect of BPA (i.e. some patient’s tissues were sensitive to it and others weren’t). However, on average, BPA was more potent than estradiol at equimolar doses (that’s an equivalent dose based on the number of molecules, not weight, for those of you who didn’t take or don’t remember chemistry). Yikes!
Anyway, here’s the kicker. The levels were environmentally relevant. 1-10 nM are common in people (some up to 20 nM). The study found effects at 0.1 and 1.0 nM. Good ‘ole plastics. Is there anything they can’t do?