BPA and diabetes link may start in pregnancy

BPA, a chemical found in many plastic products like food containers, toys, or packaging, could cause a type of oxidative stress that leads to insulin resistance, according to new research from the Endocrine Society.

The study found that exposure to BPA during pregnancy can increase a baby's risk for developing heart disease or diabetes later in life.

It has been known for some time now that BPA acts as an endocrine disruptor, mimicking estrogen and/or interfering with the body's own hormones - which can lead to metabolic problems, thyroid conditions and other diseases.

"This study provides the first evidence that BPA exposure during pregnancy can induce a specific type of oxidative stress known as nitrosative stress in both the mother and offspring," said senior study author Dr. Vasantha Padmanabhan, from the University of Michigan.

Minimizing exposure

An estimated 96 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study also found that pregnant animals, like sheep, rats and mice, who were exposed to higher levels of BPA also had offspring with similar metabolic risks as humans.

While completely avoiding exposure to BPA is nearly impossible - it is a common contaminant in our water and food - pregnant women can take measures to minimize their toxic load: buying BPA-free water bottles, using stainless steel food containers, and avoiding exposure to cash register receipts are all small steps that can be taken.

By reducing exposure to BPA, a growing baby may experience less oxidative stress and a better chance of growing up with a healthy hormonal profile, the study concluded.

"Oxidative stress is associated with insulin resistance and inflammation, which are risk factors for diabetes and other metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular disease," Padmanabhan said.

The study is published in Endocrinology.

Source: Endocrine Society

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