BPA Linked to Disruptions in Hormonal Balance

Summary
Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the food and drink packaging and plastic industry, is a known endocrine function disruptor, something that disrupts your body’s normal cell metabolism. The objective of this study was to assess the level of BPA in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and to establish a link between the chemical and its effect on hormonal functions. Higher levels of BPA were found in PCOS women, as compared to normal women, thus it seems to be a potent disruptor of endocrine function in PCOS.

Introduction
Human exposure to BPA is common and almost continuous, due to its rampant usage. This toxic chemical affects the female reproductive system to a great extent. Being bidirectional, BPA increases testosterone (male hormone) levels in women and testosterone inhibits the further clearance of BPA itself. Among women of reproductive age, the most common hormonal disorder is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It is characterized by insulin imbalance, the presence of excess male hormones and infertility. BPA has been reported to be a causative factor of PCOS. It has been shown recently that BPA is linked with a PCOS-like syndrome in neonatal rats. This study aims at estimating the levels of BPA in women with the disease.

Methodology
* Seventy-one known PCOS patients and a group of 100 healthy women were included in the study. The participants in each group were categorized as “lean” or “overweight,” depending on their BMI.
* Clinical examination and various hormonal tests were performed to assess the levels of BPA, other hormones and the insulin status of the participants.
* Statistical measures were used to analyze the association between the levels of BPH and hormonal parameters.

Results
* The levels of BPA were higher in the PCOS patients than in the healthy women.
* Irrespective of the BMI, the women with PCOS had higher levels of male hormone and an imbalance in levels of their reproductive hormones.
* The sensitivity to insulin was lower in the group with known polycystic ovary syndrome, than it was it in the group of healthy women.

Next steps/Shortcomings

This study does not explain the causal relationship between BPA and PCOS. Although BPA is increased in PCOS, the reasons are not elucidated in this study. The authors suggest a “potential role of this endocrine disruptor in PCOS pathophysiology.” They, however, claim that more investigation is to be done in order to comprehend the involved mechanisms and to understand the potential clinical implications of the results.

Conclusion
BPA levels, reproductive hormone levels and insulin imbalance were significantly disturbed in PCOS patients. “BPA is a widespread environmental pollutant, and recent data from experimental animals have demonstrated that neonatal exposure to BPA leads to PCOS development.” This study also suggests a few mechanisms by which BPA could alter the hormonal imbalance in PCOS. “BPA per se may stimulate hyperandrogenemia in the ovary.” BPA might also impact the action of insulin. Though these mechanisms were not elucidated in this study, previous experiments on animals suggest a relationship. This study indicates that BPA may truly play a significant role as a disruptor of hormonal balance in PCOS.

For More Information:
Endocrine Disruptors and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Elevated Serum Levels of Bisphenol A in Women with PCOS.
Publication Journal: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, December 2010
By Eleni Kandaraki; Antonis Chatzigeorgiou; Huddersfield Royal Infirmary Hospital, West Yorkshire, UK and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.
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