Exposure to BPA, a controversial plastic hardener, may increase your risk for heart disease, according to research released Thursday.
Researchers followed 1,600 people over the course of 10 years and found people with high concentrations of BPA in their urine were more likely to develop heart disease.
BPA is found in everything from water bottles and the liners of food cans to sunglasses and CD cases. When these objects are washed, heated or stressed, the chemical can leach out and potentially cause health problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took urine samples from 2,500 people in 2003 and found 93 percent of them had BPA in their urine.
BPA acts as a synthetic version of the hormone estrogen when ingested and has been implicated by various studies to cause health problems such as cancer and neurological issues.
A summary of some of these studies can be seen here.
This latest study found that the participants who developed heart disease tended to have higher BPA concentrations in their urine than those who didn't. However the researchers could not say definitively that BPA caused the heart disease.
This study strengthens the statistical link between BPA and heart disease, but we can't be certain that BPA itself is responsible, Dr. David Melzer, lead researcher and professor of epidemiology and public health at Peninsula Medical School, said in a statement. It is now important that government agencies organize drug style safety trials of BPA in humans, as much basic information about how BPA behaves in the human body is still unknown.
Tamara Galloway, another of the study's authors and a professor of ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter, echoed that sentiment.
If BPA itself is directly responsible for this increase in risk, the size of effect is difficult to estimate, she said in a statement. However, it adds to the evidence that BPA may be an additional contributor to heart disease risk alongside the major risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The Canadian federal government classified BPA as a toxic substance in 2008 and banned its use in baby bottles. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency declared BPA a chemical of concern in 2010 and recommended investigating it further.