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Gender bending' chemical in food tins may cut male fertility
08-07-2010, 06:04 AM,
Gender bending' chemical in food tins may cut male fertility
'Gender bending' chemical in food tins may cut male fertility

By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 10:34 AM on 5th August 2010

A ‘gender bending’ chemical in food and drinks containers could be behind rising male infertility, scientists say.

Men with high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies are more likely to have low sperm counts, according to a study.

BPA is widely used to harden plastics and is found in baby bottles, CD cases, plastic knives and forks and the lining of food and drink cans.

The chemical mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen and interferes with the way hormones are processed by the body.

Although some animal studies have shown it is safe, others have linked it to breast cancer, liver damage, obesity, diabetes and fertility problems.

Experts estimate BPA is detectable in more than 90 per cent of people.

It is one of the world’s most widely manufactured chemicals, with more than 2.2million tons made each year.

Earlier this year, Denmark became the first EU country to ban the chemical in food and drink containers for children under three.

Canada and three U.S. states have also brought in bans.

Scientists have now discovered it could be lined to poor sperm quality and concentration.

Professor John Meeker, who led the study at the University of Michigan in the U.S., said: ‘Much of the focus for BPA is on the exposures in utero (in the womb) or in early life, which is of course extremely important, but this suggests exposure may also be a concern for adults.’

In one of the first human studies, Professor Meeker and co-author Russ Hauser, from the Harvard School of Public Health, recruited 190 men through a fertility clinic.

The researchers compared thelevels of BPA in urine samples with the men’s sperm quality and concentration.

They also looked for signs of DNA damage in their sperm.

Men with the highest levels of BPA had sperm concentrations 23 per cent lower than those with the least.

‘The results also suggested a 10 per cent increase in sperm DNA damage,’ said Professor Meeker.

But the researchers stressed that their findings, published in

the journal Reproductive Toxicology, needed to be repeated with a larger sample size.

Elizabeth Salter Green, of the Chemicals, Health And Environment Monitoring Trust, described the study as ‘another nail in the coffin’ for BPA and called for it to be banned.

‘There are now hundreds of research papers that indicate BPA is not good for our health, linking exposure to fertility problems, cancer, diabetes and obesity,’ she added.

The Food Standards Agency insists there is no evidence BPA is harmful.

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