BPA Exposure Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes, Study Finds

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Participants assigned to a 4-day energy balance diet plus oral bisphenol A administration at 50 μg/kg body weight experienced significant decreases in peripheral insulin sensitivity.

Todd Hagobian, PhD | Credit: Cal Poly

Todd Hagobian, PhD

Credit: Cal Poly

Findings from a recent study suggest limiting exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.1

The data were presented at the 84th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and provide evidence demonstrating BPA administration may increase diabetes risk, highlighting significantly reduced peripheral insulin sensitivity among participants assigned to a 4-day energy balance diet plus oral BPA administration at 50 μg/kg body weight.1

“Given that diabetes is a leading cause of death in the US, it is crucial to understand even the smallest factors that contribute to the disease,” Todd Hagobian, PhD, associate vice president of research at California Polytechnic State University, said in a press release.2 “We were surprised to see that reducing BPA exposure, such as using stainless steel or glass bottles and BPA-free cans, may lower diabetes risk. These results suggest that maybe the US EPA safe dose should be reconsidered and that healthcare providers could suggest these changes to patients.”

A chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, BPA is found in various products and coatings. Most people are exposed to BPA through diet because it can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles.3

BPA is a known endocrine-disrupting chemical, which may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, no experimental studies have examined whether BPA promotes reductions in peripheral insulin sensitivity.1

In the present study, 40 healthy adults completed a 2-day baseline energy balance diet low in bisphenols during which urine, blood, and peripheral insulin sensitivity were assessed via 120 min euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp technique. Among the cohort, 55% of participants were female, 85% were Non-Hispanic White, and the mean age was 21.3 ± 2.5 years.1

Investigators assigned participants in a double-blinded fashion to a 4-day energy balance diet plus oral BPA administration at 50 μg/kg body weight or a 4-day energy balance diet plus oral placebo administration. Outcomes were reassessed using repeated measures ANOVA adjusting for baseline sex, BMI, physical activity, and ethnicity.1

From baseline to 4 days, body weight was not significantly different between the placebo group (mean ± SEM; 66.7 ± 2.5, 66.2 ± 2.5 kg) and the BPA group (66.7 ± 2.5, 66.7± 2.5 kg; P >.05), nor was fasting blood glucose (placebo: 95 ± 2, 88 ± 2 mg/dL; BPA:92 ± 2, 92 ± 2 mg/dL; P >.05). Compared to placebo, investigators noted urine BPA was significantly increased (P <.05) following oral BPA administration. Of note, from baseline to 4 days, peripheral insulin sensitivity significantly decreased in the BPA group (0.11 ± 0.01, 0.10 ± 0.01 mg/kg/min/uU/ml) and remained stable in the placebo group (0.09 ± 0.01, 0.10 ± 0.01 mg/kg/min/uU/ml).1

According to an ADA press release, as this study progresses, a pair of follow up studies are needed to accurately account for results. The first is to see if a lower dose of BPA administration over several weeks or months increases diabetes risk, and the second is to see if aerobic exercise can reverse or overcome the negative effects of BPA administration.2

“With the increase in diabetes in the US, it is our duty to ensure safety within our products and in our homes”, said Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief scientific and medical officer of the ADA and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.2 “This is only the beginning of highlighting the need for informed public health recommendations and policies.”

References:

  1. Seal A, Malin SK, Schaffner A, et al. Oral Bisphenol A Administration Decreased Peripheral Insulin Sensitivity in Healthy Adults. Abstract presented at 84th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2024. Orlando, Florida. June 21-24, 2024.
  2. American Diabetes Association. Study Reveals Decrease in Bisphenol A Exposure Can Impact Type 2 Diabetes Care. June 21, 2024. Accessed June 21, 2024.
  3. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Bisphenol A (BPA). Environmental Health Topics. August 31, 2023. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa
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