BPA doesn't make you fat or sick - overeating does
Several studies in the past decade or so have linked bisphenol A (BPA) to weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
But Richard Sharpe from the Medical Research Council's Centre for Reproductive Health in Edinburgh, Scotland, says that BPA - a chemical that gets leached from plastic water bottles or food packaging - doesn't cause all of the problems it's being blamed for. The real culprit, he says, is overeating.
More eating = more BPA
Sharpe says that people who overeat can easily develop chronic illnesses, and that BPA levels are likely to be higher in these people because of the overeating. He notes that the cause-and-effect argument for BPA and chronic disease or obesity is inherently flawed in previous studies.
“None of these studies actually shows that bisphenol A exposure causes the disorders,” Sharpe said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston. “The exposure is simply associated with occurrence of the disorders.”
Western diet is to blame
Sharpe suggests that the Western diet may actually be responsible for health issues associated with high BPA levels, as this diet is riddled with convenience foods and beverages that come in packaged form.
“My hypothesis is that a modern Western diet determines the level of BPA exposure – the more of it you eat, the more BPA you're exposed to – with the result that over-eating causes obesity etc, but also causes higher BPA exposure,” Sharpe said.
A review of 150 studies also found that concentrations of BPA can mimic oestrogens, which might explain infertility problems in men. But Justin Teeguarden of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, says that, like obesity or diabetes, this problem can't be blamed on BPA.
“Human internal exposures to BPA are below levels we would expect to cause toxicity in the general population and children,” Teeguarden said.
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