Bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA, has been banned from baby bottles and sippy cups for more than half a decade, but a new study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine journal finds that BPA is also a risk factor in developing inflammatory bowel disease. According to the Jennifer DeLuca, a graduate student in nutrition and the first author for the study,
This is the first study to show that BPA can negatively impact gut microbial amino acid metabolism in a way that has been associated with irritable bowel disease…” – Jennifer DeLuca, first author for the study
[Image explanation: Receipts are a common source of BPAs]
Bowel Disease and BPA
The term inflammatory bowel disease covers different digestive conditions like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. People with IBD can suffer from severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. The number of adults in the U.S. with Crohn’s has increased by 1 million people over the last two decades, and research hasn’t presented a cause. It’s highly likely that there isn’t a single cause for chronic illness. Dr. Clint Allred, a researcher from the nutrition and food science department at Texas A&M University, says,
The number of new cases of IBD are increasing, especially in nations that become more industrialized. While the causes of IBD have not yet been determined, several risk factors for developing it or worsening symptoms have been suggested. One such risk factor, the hormone estrogen, has been linked with an increased risk of IBD — and BPA can act as an estrogen. Furthermore, BPA has been previously shown to alter gut microbes similarly to the way the gut microbiota is altered in IBD patients.”
Digestive Disorders are Increasing
Digestive disorders of all varieties are now a fact of life for many people. Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis…even instances of colorectal cancer are increasing in younger populations worldwide. The diversity of our microbiome is a huge factor in that. The greater the range of microbes in the gut, the healthier the digestive system is. Diverse bacteria needs diverse fuel. Yet the modern, conventional diet is anything but, with rice, corn, and wheat accounting for two-thirds of all food consumed. We’re also passing down this lack of diversity to our children, and we’ve only begun to see the beginning of what a limited microbiome looks like. According to a study,
…changes in the microbiota of mice consuming a low-MAC (microbiota accessible carbohydrates) diet and harboring a human microbiota are largely reversible within a single generation, however over multiple generations a low-MAC diet results in a progressive loss of diversity, which is not recoverable upon the reintroduction of dietary MACs.” – Nature.com
We’re already seeing these effects, and they will continue to amplify. Our gut microbiota diversity goes away when we don’t take care of it.
BPA Isn’t Going Away
Meanwhile, BPA is not going anywhere. Even if the chemical is completely banned, it has already leached into water supplies around the world, and the plastics scheduled to replace it like bisphenol S are equally or more harmful. Conventional medicine is increasingly out of answers. In fact, a number of medical devices like catheters, surgical instruments, endoscopes, and pacemakers still contain BPA and other plastics.
Our natural defenses continue to drop, as we lose gut diversity. Our risk for diseases rises as we surround ourselves and our environment with problematic chemicals. Is it any wonder that this generation will be the first one where parents enjoy a longer lifespan than their children?
- Study shows BPA risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease – Medical Xpress
- Texas A&M AgriLife study shows BPA risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease – AgriLife Today
- BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous – Scientific American
- BPA a substance of very high concern – Implications for the Medical Devices Regulation – Health Care Without Harm
- Diet-induced extinction in the gut microbiota compounds over generations – NCBI