The majority of teenagers now have traces of BPA (Bisphenol A) in their bodies, according to a new study published in the BMJ Open journal. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical and is linked with brain and behavioral problems, cancer, and heart problems.
For the study, researchers tested the urine of 94 17-19-year-olds. Before and after the trial, the teens tried to completely eliminate BPA-containing packaging and foods from their diets. They used glass, ceramic, and stainless steel containers rather than plastic. Despite their efforts, 86 percent of the 17-19-year-olds had BPA in their bodies.
“BPA passes relatively swiftly out of the body with a short half-life of around 6 hours, but measurable BPA was detected in 86% of the participating students, with an average level of 1.9ng/ml. This is similar to population exposure levels in other countries around the world, and reflects the exposure to BPA in the environment,” notes the study.
The research was led by Professor Lorna Harries, Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics, and Professor Tamara Galloway, Professor of Ecotoxicology. Students designed, took part in and published the research, as they wanted to learn whether or not their lifestyle and diet could affect the amount of BPA in their bodies.
Surprisingly, attempting to avoid packaging and food that likely contains BPA had no measurable impact on exposure. This finding is important, as teenagers are believed to be one of the population demographics with the highest levels of exposure.
The student researchers concluded, “We found no evidence in this self-administered intervention study that it was possible to moderate BPA exposure by diet in a real-world setting. Our study participants indicated that they would be unlikely to sustain such as diet long term, due to the difficulty in identifying BPA free foods.”
Though the effects of BPA exposure are not entirely known, several studies have concluded that BPA exposure can lead to brain and behavioral problems and may increase the risk of cancer. BPA is especially toxic to infants and young children. This is because their bodies are still developing and they are less efficient at eliminating substances from their systems.
Those involved have since called for better labeling of packaging to enable consumers to choose BPA-free products. Said Professor Harries in a statement: “Our study shows that we currently do not have much of a choice about being exposed to BPA. We believe that much better labeling of products containing BPA is needed so people can make an informed choice.”
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