BPA in our bodies may be passed down to our children

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Drinking BPA bottle

There is new research to suggest that bisphenol-A (BPA) may damage us in ways that are transmitted generation after generation, affecting not only us but also our descendants.

BPA is the chemical found in some food containers and plastics. In animal studies, the chemical has been linked to cancer, depression and fetal development problems.

The research appears in the peer-reviewed journal Endocrinology. It was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Virginia.

The failure to effectively ban BPA means that these generational effects are unavoidable. BPA is found in everything from plastics to canned food to ATM receipts. There has even been research to suggest that more than 90 per cent of Americans have it in their urine.

In this newest study, researchers looked specifically at genetic effects. Many previous studies have examined behavioural and physiological effects alone.

But observers say there is one truly significant aspect of this particular study: The researchers replicated in mice the low-level, chronic exposure that humans experience in their day-to-day lives. It was this level of exposure that caused the genetic and behavioural changes they saw. The offspring were less sociable than control mice and various effects were also evident for the next three generations of mice.

The teams says the BPA seemed to interfere with the way the animals processed hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones affect trust and warm feelings.

Jennifer T. Wolstenholme is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia and the lead author of the report. She believes the findings are “scary”.

Wolstenholme said they found behaviours in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants that may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.