In Plastics and Cans, a Threat to Women

“In Plastics and Cans, a Threat to Women.” By Deborah Blum, The New York Times Well Blog.

Concerns about the health risks of bisphenol A, or BPA arose when researchers first reported in the 1990s that it appeared to disrupt normal hormone function. The Food and Drug Administration banned the chemical in baby products. While some manufacturers voluntarily scaled back its use, BPA is still used in many materials. Studies have found that a majority of Americans test positive for exposure. Scientists are still struggling to figure out where BPA ranks among serious health risks.

A few years ago, Jodi Flaws, a bioscientist at the University of Illinois, began testing a theory about the risks to women posed by the widely used industrial compound bisphenol A, or BPA. A series of studies had suggested that it could damage developing ovaries. But nobody knew how. So for a month, Dr. Flaws dosed young female mice with a BPA solution at a level comparable to estimated human exposure in the United States. She then examined their ovaries, focusing on the follicles, which contain the eggs. The effect of the BPA was immediately obvious. Compared with normal mice, the follicles of the treated mice were fewer and smaller. Scientists discovered similar effects across a broad range of mammals, from sheep to monkeys, to humans.

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