Bisphenol A stays in the body much longer than scientists thought, according to a new study, increasing the opportunity for the chemical to disrupt the body’s hormonal balance and create health problems.
Scientists used to believe that bisphenol A was quickly processed and eliminated from the body through urine. But the new study found that people who fasted for 8 and 24 hours still had significant levels of BPA in their body. The study, published by Environmental Health Perspectives, theorizes that the results could mean one of two things: our bodies do not eliminate BPA as quickly or as efficiently as once thought, or that we are exposed to BPA through nonfood sources like water pipes and household dust.
BPA is a chemical found in many food containers, including plastic food storage containers and many baby bottles. Studies have linked even low levels of exposure to BPA to heart disease, diabetes, chemotherapy resistance and tumor growth.
"If it leaves the body quickly, then it reduces the amount of time when it can cause problems. If it does cause problems, obviously if it stays around much longer, then that changes the game," Dr. Richard Stahlhut, whose study appears in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The study found that people who had fasted for eight and a half hours had about the same level of BPA in their system as people who had fasted for 24 hours. Scientists used to believe that BPA was completely eliminated from the human body 24 hours after exposure, according to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"It provides evidence that we are being exposed to more BPA than we think - and that contaminated food and beverages may not even be the main source" of our BPA exposure, said Patricia Hunt, a professor at Washington State University who pioneered studies linking BPA to cancer. "Scary, huh?"