We live in a society where a lot of people are overweight and obese. They say overall, half of the developed world is now overweight and one in six is obese, about double the numbers of 30 years ago.
It is an epidemic, among adults, as well as children. Fast food is so convenient and Americans live such a busy lifestyle that we cram that junk into our bodies without ever noting the consequences. We make excuses as to why we can’t make it to the gym, and we live in a fog of unreality, that we are immortal and the decisions that we are making won’t create problems for our bodies in the future. The list of excuses we make is exhaustive, and now we supposedly have another reason as to why we are such an overweight and unhealthy society- modern chemicals.
A new study reported in the Huffington Post, claims that exposure to even the smallest amounts of synthesized substances — used in everything from pesticides to water bottles — can scramble hormone signals, scientists say. This interference can trick fat cells into taking in more fat or mislead the pancreas into secreting excess insulin, a hormone that regulates the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates.
Among the most ubiquitous and scrutinized of these so-called endocrine disruptors is bisphenol A, better known as BPA. The chemical is a common ingredient in plastics and food-can linings.
“When you eat something with BPA, it’s like telling your organs that you are eating more than you are really eating,” says Angel Nadal, a BPA expert at the Miguel Hernandez University in Spain.
Here’s what happens, according to the research: BPA fools a receptor into thinking it is the natural hormone estrogen. Estrogen is an insulin regulator, noted the Huntington Post. The researchers discovered that even the smallest amounts of BPA—they said, as little as one-quarter of one-billionth of one gram—was sufficient. When the researchers stripped receptors from the study mice, the effect disappeared. Of note, this evidence proved they pinpointed BPA’s chemical mechanism, something other research has been unable to accomplish, said The Huffington Post.
The response was even greater in laboratory tests of human cells. “That pretty much nails it,” Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in this study, told The Huffington Post. Blumberg noted that although previous links existed between BPA and metabolic problems, because there was no clear-cut understanding about how the phenomenon occurred, the connection was doubted.
“People are seeing effects of BPA down to 1000-fold below [Nadal’s threshold],” said Frederick vom Saal, another expert in endocrine disruptors at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “It takes so little of this chemical to cause harm,” he added.
The chemical industry continues to disagree. “BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today and has a safety track record of 50 years,” Kathryn Murray St. John, spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, an industry lobbying group, told The Huffington Post.
Nadal adds that BPA is just one of a larger cocktail of at least 20 endocrine disruptors commonly used in everyday items, including phthalates, nicotine, dioxin, arsenic and tributyltin. Further, obesity and diabetes aren’t the only risks posed by the chemicals. Studies also hint at links with cancer, infertility, heart disease and cognitive problems.