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BPA exposure leads to obesity, says biologist

Used to harden plastics, BPA can be present in water bottles, soup cans, cash-register receipts, toys and a host of other products.


By Elizabeth Nolan Brown for 

Even limited exposure to bisphenol-A can program a developing fetus for childhood or adult obesity, says Frederick vom Saal, a biologist who has been studying the plastic additive for two decades. The results of his latest research mirror that of other recent studies, which have given new credulity to the link between BPA and obesity.

“During the development of the fetus, BPA exposure alters the development of stem cells,” vom Saal told The Daily. “Think of it as tripping a switch in the DNA. BPA turns out to be a major factor in the number of fat cells that a person will have later in life.”

BPA is a controversial chemical. Used to harden plastics, it can be present in water bottles, soup cans, cash-register receipts, toys and a host of other products. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93% of Americans have levels of BPA ranging from .1 to 9 parts per billion in their bodies.

An ‘endocrine disruptor,’ BPA mimics the hormone estrogen. Independent scientific reviews consistently find BPA to be toxic. Exposure to BPA has been linked to breast cancerheart diseasemale sexual dysfunctiondepression, infertility and miscarriage in adults, and poses special risk to children and developing fetuses. Some U.S. states have passed laws prohibiting its use in baby bottles. Even Campbell’s Soups has announced plans to phase out BPA in product packaging.

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