New Research Shows Prenatal Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) May Feminize Male Monkeys

macaque monkey and babyNeed a reason to reduce BPA exposure while trying to get and while pregnant? New research suggests that prenatal (or in the womb exposure) to endocrine-disrupting BPA may “feminize” male infants.


Wondering what the heck bisphenol A is? I’ve got a refresher for you.


New research shows that baby monkeys exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) in utero act more like female baby monkeys than male monkeys. Specifically, the researchers concluded that “prenatal exposure to BPA altered the behaviors of the male infants significantly; BPA-exposed male infants behaved as female infants.” (emphasis added). The researchers went only to conclude the “results suggest that BPA exposure affects behavioral sexual differentiation in male monkeys . . . ” 


The study involved giving pregnant cynomolgus monkeys (aka long tailed Macaque monkey) daily doses of 10 micrograms BPA per kilogram of body weight and comparing the behavior of the resulting infants with that of non-dosed counterparts. Normally, the male and female infant monkeys would show distinct behavior differences. However, in this study, the male monkeys exposed in utero acted like female monkeys in certain behavior, namely clinging and social exploration.


Are these results relevant for us? Well, the dose given to the monkeys is much higher than the average American receives by approximately a factor of 10. However, the BPA levels measured in the monkeys’ blood was similar to those observed in people. This may mean that BPA is processed differently. Or, it may mean that our assumptions about how we are exposed are incorrect, which is suggested by another recent study.


That study looked at how quickly our bodies metabolize BPA, or basically how long it persists in our bodies. It has been assumed that we are exposed to BPA primarily from our food and drink. So, this study measured BPA levels following exposure to food and drink, believing that the levels in the body and urine would decrease the longer the time from the last meal. However, researchers found that levels did NOT decrease as quickly as expected, leading the researchers to conclude that either we are exposed to BPA from other sources or that we do not process (or metabolize) BPA as quickly as we thought.


So, what does this all mean? That if you are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, you may want to limit your exposure to BPA.  We know we are exposed to BPA from polycarbonate plastic – so don’t use polycarbonate plastic to store your food or drink. This means switch to stainless instead of plastic re-usable bottle, and go glass for water delivery if you have water delivery with 5 gallon polycarbonate plastic.


We also know that we are exposed to BPA from the lining of canned foods and beverages. So, you need to limit the consumption of canned foods and beverages.  What are your options? Jarred in glass, fresh, frozen or dried. Really, trust me, you can get almost anything canned in an option other than a metal can.


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