A recent study at the University of Missouri-Columbia has studied deer mice and have found their behavior and cognition is altered when exposed to BPA. The data gathered by researcher suggests that the chemical can potentially cause learning disabilities, create anxiety behaviours and make males less sexually attractive to females.
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“The males that were exposed to BPA performed at a worse rate than those that were not exposed to BPA and they had a severe delayed ability to find the exit holes that led to their home cage,” said professor Cheryl Rosenfeld of the research team. She called for renewed efforts to have the chemical removed from all food products.
Aside from decreased testosterone, the new study also reveals, “The other potential way that BPA might be induced in these effects is by acting on the region of the brain that controls this behaviour and that’s the hippocampus,” Rosenfeld said.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used to make most plastic and is known to mimic estrogen in the body. These female sex hormones are found in vertebrates and some insects and are thought to be part of our ancient evolutionary history.
The study is disheartening because of the vast number of products the compound can be found in: food and soda cans, baby bottles, water bottles and glass jars. A previous study found that BPA was present in 96 percent of pregnant women.
Estrogens play a critical role in both female and male mental health. Altered levels in males have been found to contribute to the development of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Prenatal exposure to BPA has also been found to cause neurological deficiencies later in life. BPA plastics have also been linked to ADHD, addictive behavior, diabetes, thyroid function, reproductive issues and some cancers.
With the discarded products piling up in landfills, the implications go beyond our species as well. The professor added, “In the wide scheme of things, these behavioral deficits could, in the long term, undermine the ability of a species such as the deer mouse to reproduce in the wild. Whether there are comparable health threats to humans remains unclear, but there clearly must be a concern.”
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