Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical utilized in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins used in the linings of food cans, water bottles, and dental fillings. It is produced in high volumes throughout the world. In the United States it has been detected in 95 percent of the population. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, which means that it disrupts hormone function. BPA interferes with estrogen receptors, disrupts thyroid hormone function, binds to androgens (male hormones) and steroid hormones involved in lowering inflammation, and interferes with the central nervous and immune systems.

BPA exposure has been linked to increased production of liver enzymes, recurrent miscarriages, premature delivery, inflammation, oxidative stress, decreased semen quality, and male sexual dysfunction. BPA exposure has also been linked to cardiovascular disease. A recent study published in the journal Hypertension investigated the relationship between BPA exposure and blood pressure and heart rate variability in people aged 60 or over. Heart rate variability is a measurement of the variation of heart rate; reduced heart rate variability increases the risk of cardiac events. High blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

In the study, those people who had the highest levels of BPA in their urine also had increased blood pressure and decreased heart rate variability when compared to those with the lowest BPA levels. In those participants without a previous history of high blood pressure—and therefore not taking medication to control blood pressure—the higher the BPA level, the higher was their blood pressure.

“I suggest consumers try to eat fresh foods or glass bottle-contained foods rather than canned foods and hopefully, manufacturers will develop and use healthy alternatives to BPA for the inner lining of can containers,” noted Yun-Chul Hong, MD, PhD, lead researcher.

This study comes on the heels of an announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that concluded BPA exposure to be safe at current consumption rates after reviewing over 300 scientific studies. This announcement is no different than what they have been saying for years, and goes against what many studies are finding. It is up to us as consumers to purchase products that do not contain this toxic chemical, but more regulations are needed to help protect our health in a world where BPA is almost ubiquitous.