People with high levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine are more likely to have narrow coronary arteries, a new study published in PLos One reveals.
BPA, a chemical which has been used for over 40 years in food packaging and metal can liners, is likely to narrow coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.
David Melzer, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and public health at England’s University of Exeter says that nearly everyone has detectable levels of BPA in their urine. His new study shows that there is an association between BPA and the width of coronary arteries.
“The people who had narrowed arteries had higher levels of BPA in their urine. We need to take it seriously that BPA may be adding to the other classical risk factors for heart disease such as high lipids, high blood pressure, and smoking,” he said.
However, BPA is not the only factor affecting arteries; diet and physical activity also play an important part. Scientists from environmental groups say the study results add to growing evidence of a link between BPA and heart disease. But a spokesperson from the chemical industry dismissed the study saying it doesn’t prove anything.
BPA has already been banned in baby bottles and sippy cups by the FDA but this time it says that the evidence does not suggest that very low levels of BPA via diet can cause health problems.
Previous studies done on animals have shown that exposure to this chemical can cause diabetes, heart disease and reproductive disorders. In this study, Melzer evaluated 591 men and women in the UK for heart disease.
All the participants underwent angiography, which showed, 385 participants had severe coronary artery disease, 86 had intermediate coronary artery disease and 120 had normal arteries.
According to Melzer, approximately 30% of the intermediate group and 27% of the severe group had high levels of BPA in their urine while only 17.5% of the normal group had high levels of BPA.
“Even in that relatively small group we found very clear evidence of a link of BPA exposure with coronary artery narrowing,” said Melzer.
Melzer can’t explain the mechanism behind the association. He found a link, not cause and effect
BPA is a complex chemical. “What we know is, it’s absorbed from the gut and processed in the liver. How much goes through the liver without being processed is a matter of controversy. It seems to circulate in the blood and get into tissues,” said Melzer.
Sonya Lunder, MPH, senior research analyst at the Environmental Working Group believes the new findings add to the growing evidence to the link between BPA and heart diseases.
She says the researchers are “knitting together a compelling case about this everyday toxin that could affect the lives of millions.”