Mar 31, 2013 | Natural News | Sherry Baker
For years, Natural News has reported on research from scientists who are sounding the alarm that estrogen-mimicking chemicals in the environment, including bisphenol A (BPA) are ending up in our bodies -- with potentially health-harming results. Specifically, in study after study, researchers have found links between these "xenoestrogens" and decreased sperm viability, obesity, ovarian dysfunction, neurodevelopmental problems in children and more.
Unfortunately, this tale of chemicals-changing-humans just got worse. Much worse.
Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB) decided to tackle a serious question raised by exposure to xenoestrogens, which are now rampant in the environment: What happens to people when they are exposed over time to several of these estrogen-like chemicals? Using new techniques to study exposure to low doses of multiple xenoestrogens, the UT research team came up with a disturbing possibility.
The scientists used cell cultures to test mixtures of three compounds known to affect estrogen signaling -- BPA, which is found in plastic bottles and can linings; bisphenol S, or BPS, which is a replacement for BPA that manufacturers have pushed as safer than BPA, but research has found it has similar effects in the body; and nonylphenol, a common component of industrial detergents and surfactants. Watson and her team took different mixtures of these estrogen-disrupting compounds and tested them on rat pituitary cells because these cells are master regulators of the endocrine systems that control hormones.
The experiments measured the responses of key signaling pathways that trigger cells to proliferate, to secrete the pituitary hormone prolactin and to activate proteins involved in apoptosis (programmed cell death). The scientists also compared the effects of estrogen alone with those of estrogen and mixtures of BPA, BPS and nonylphenol.
The research, just published in the journal Environmental Health, uncovered that combinations of these hormone disrupting chemicals have a dramatically greater effect on cells than one of them alone. And the possible ramifications to health, fertility and the development of healthy children are potentially disastrous.
"We wanted to see how these persistent, ubiquitous contaminants affect estrogenic signaling when they're mixed together as they are in nature, so we set up a cell-culture system that allowed us to test their influence on signaling by estradiol, the estrogen found in adult, cycling women," UTMB professor Cheryl Watson, senior author of the study, said in a press statement. "What we found is that these things gang up on estradiol and thwart its response, which is not a good thing."
"These compounds work at very low concentrations -- at the parts per trillion or parts per quadrillion level -- and when you mix them together they affect estrogenic signaling differently and more dramatically than they do individually," Watson continued. "We need to pay attention to this, because estrogens influence so many things in both males and females -- reproduction, the immune system, metabolism, bone growth, all sorts of important biological functions."
She pointed out that studies have detected measurable levels of BPA and BPS in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans. In all, Watson stated, modern humans are exposed to dozens of xenoestrogens more or less continually.
"These things are all over the environment, and we need to know what they do so we can start figuring out what we need to change," Watson said. "They're probably disrupting and confusing hormones in people, and it's important to find a way to prevent that as soon as we can."
About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.