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Another Plastic Health Risk — Erectile Dysfunction

While there have been previous studies, linking bisphenol A (BPA), found in hard plastics, to health problems, including precancerous tumors, prostate cancer, and brain damage, a new study, conducted in China, substantiates its claims with results in humans. In one of the first studies of its kind to be conducted on humans, researchers are finding that much of what they've previously seen in animal studies holds true — men exposed to significant amounts of BPA are at greater risk of sexual health problems.

The study compared the levels of sexual dysfunction in two groups of male factory workers — one group, which was exposed to high levels of BPA, while the other was not. The overall findings of the research reveal that when BPA enters the body, it may mimic estrogen, and block male sex hormones from functioning. In the males who were exposed to high levels of BPA, researchers observed that the risk of erectile dysfunction was four times that of a man not exposed to the chemicals.

According Dr. Rebecca Sokol, the director of the andrology program at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, and specialist in the effects of toxins on the reproductive system, these are some "compelling results." She notes that, "It's not cause and effect, but when you have the kind of ambient air quality assessment that they made, it comes pretty close to cause and effect."

To learn more about the study keep reading.

Not only is this relevant in revealing the link between BPA and sexual health, but also valuable in revealing the relevance of animal studies to human health. The lead author of the study, Dr. De-Kun Li, notes how in the past skeptical scientists and "industry representatives" would argue, "'Where's the human data? Where's the human data? You can't extrapolate animal studies to humans.'" "[This] is true, sometimes," he says, "But now we have human data." This could be significant data to encourage taking the findings of animal studies more seriously, claims Li, "we cannot dismiss them anymore." While the study's findings will need to be replicated to substantiate its claims on a larger level, it certainly helps to promote greater awareness of the safety of BPA products among consumers, and keeps the investigation of BPA and plastic products in focus.

Image Source: Getty
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