Exposure to high levels of a chemical commonly found in food and drink packaging may contribute to endocrine changes in men, a new study says.
Previous studies have reported that bisphenol A (BPA), found in the liners of some food cans, feeding cups, and baby bottles, has a similar molecular structure to estrogen and therefore affects sex hormone signaling in laboratory animals.
BPA exposure is also associated with thyroid hormone disruption, altered pancreatic beta-cell function, cardiovascular disease and obesity in humans.
According to the study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, BPA exposure in men is linked with elevated blood levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, a condition which may contribute to increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers in men.
"BPA is what's known as an anti-androgen. That means that it blocks the normal action of testosterone in the body and what we might be seeing is the body making more testosterone to overcome this," said lead researcher Tamara Galloway.
The changes reported in testosterone levels are small and within the normal range and may not place the individual at a greater risk of developing any health condition. Routine exposures to the substance, however, might be troublesome.
"There is no reason to believe that trace environmental exposures to BPA would affect testosterone levels any more than eating a meal consisting of natural soy, which is a potential natural endocrine modulator," Galloway added.