Sunday, February 1, 2015

"One word, Benjamin..."


Earlier on this blog we've posted about the dangers of BPA, a chemical found in the styrofoam containers of instant noodle cups ("Stuff to Stop Eating Right Now", Jan. 26, 2015). Now this recently released study done by the University of Calgary suggests a definite link between this chemical, also found in plastic, and undesirable outcomes in zebrafish development:
The researchers exposed zebrafish embryos to concentrations of BPA and BPS [chemicals in plastics; Ed.] that regularly occur in major rivers in Alberta, Canada. They described zebrafish as "a widely accepted biomedical model for understanding embryonic brain development." ...[W]hat we show is that the zebrafish exposed to BPA or BPS were getting twice as many neurons born too soon and about half as many neurons born later, so that will lead to problems in how the neurons connect and form circuits."
The researcher goes onto say that she was very surprised by the results. After all:
"This was a very, very, very low dose, so I didn't think using a dose this low could have any effect."
The article explains that it's not just the brains of unborn zebrafish who are at risk here--it's unborn people, too. But don't despair. There is a solution:
Our data here, combined with over a dozen physiological and behavioral human studies that begin to point to the prenatal period as a BPA window of vulnerability, suggest that pregnant mothers limit exposure to plastics(.)
Got it, soon-to-be moms? Limit your exposure to plastic! It's just that easy! Now back away from that keyboard ...

But wait! It's not just those women and their babies who are at risk from chemicals found in plastics. This study, definitely worth a read, showed that premenopausal women are at risk, as well:
Women whose bodies contained high levels of certain chemicals found in plastics and cosmetics experienced menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower amounts in their systems, US researchers said Wednesday. "Chemicals linked to earlier menopause may lead to an early decline in ovarian function, and our results suggest we as a society should be concerned," said senior author Amber Cooper, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Ovarian function is important because without it, women are infertile and may be at risk for earlier development of heart disease, osteoporosis and other health problems.
"But we can educate ourselves about our day-to-day chemical exposures and become more aware of the plastics and other household products we use...[although] many of these chemical exposures are beyond our control because they are in the soil, water and air," Cooper said.
At least this scientist had some better advice than the crew above who just told gals to stay away from plastic:
She recommended people use glass or paper containers when microwaving food, and minimize their exposure to harmful chemicals in the cosmetics and personal care products they choose.
Children? Heart health? Strong bones? Who needs 'em!

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