Bisphenol A or BPA, the controversial chemical found in thousands of everyday plastic products appears to cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems in men, according to a study funded by the federal government and published in the journal Human Reproduction. Researchers focused on 634 male workers at four factories in China who were exposed to elevated levels of BPA. They followed the men over five years and compared their sexual health with that of male workers in other Chinese factories where BPA was not present. The men handling BPA were four times as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and seven times as likely to have difficulty with ejaculation. The workers studied did not have to spend years in the factory to develop problems--sexual dysfunction began in new workers after just months on the job, according to one researcher commenting to the Washington Post.
The article says BPA was developed in the 1930s as a synthetic version of estrogen and (not surprisingly) appears to throw off the hormonal balance in the human body. This is just another study that adds to the growing body of evidence based on animal studies that suggests BPA can be linked to a range of health effects in laboratory animals, including infertility, weight gain, behavioral changes, early-onset puberty, cancer and diabetes.
In the article, Steven G. Hentges of the American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemical industry, said the new study has little meaning for consumers. "Although this study presents interesting information, it has little relevance to average consumers who are exposed to trace levels of BPA," he said. The workers in the study had levels of exposure to BPA that were 50 times what an average U.S. man faces. According the researchers, these finding still raise questions about whether exposure at lesser levels can affect sexual function. I think I'll skip the plastic bottle next time.