New study links increased BPA exposure to reduced egg quality in women

December 15, 2010

A small-scale University of California, San Francisco-led study has identified the first evidence in humans that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) may compromise the quality of a woman's eggs retrieved for in vitro fertilization (IVF). As blood levels of BPA in the women studied doubled, the percentage of eggs that fertilized normally declined by 50 percent, according to the research team.

The chemical BPA, which makes plastic hard and clear, has been used in many consumer products such as reusable water bottles. It also is found in , which form a protective lining inside metal food and beverage cans.

"While preliminary, the data indicate the negative effect of BPA on reproductive health and the importance of allocating more funding to further investigate why such environmental contaminants might be disrupting fertility potential," said Victor Y. Fujimoto, MD, lead study author and professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, who also is on the faculty of the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health.

Findings are available online in the journal at http://j.mp/fyjTFF.

In the study, BPA levels and fertilization rates were analyzed for 26 women undergoing IVF during 2007 and 2008 at the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health. The women were a subgroup of a larger study evaluating the effect on reproductive health of trace exposures to – mercury, cadmium and lead.

"Given the widespread nature of BPA exposure in the U.S., even a modest effect on reproduction is of substantial concern," said Michael S. Bloom, PhD, senior author and an assistant professor in the departments of Environmental Health Sciences, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health of the University at Albany, State University of New York. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in the urine of nearly everyone tested in a 2004 analysis of the U.S. population.

BPA is gaining global attention as an environmental contaminant that impacts health owing to its widespread exposure and endocrine-disrupting properties, according to the researchers. An endocrine disruptor is a synthetic chemical that when absorbed into the body either mimics or blocks hormones and interferes with the body's normal functions.

Previous studies in mouse models have indicated that BPA levels alter the DNA of eggs, and a 2010 study in humans demonstrated BPA urinary concentrations to be inversely associated with the number of eggs retrieved during an IVF cycle.

"Unfortunately, at this time there is no clinically-available test to determine BPA levels in women," Fujimoto said. "Despite the limited evidence, a cautious approach for women who are considering IVF treatment would be to reduce their exposure to through modifications in lifestyle and diet."

Earlier this year, an alliance of partners led by the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment launched an online resource called Toxic Matters (available at http://prhe.ucsf.edu/prhe/toxicmatters.html) to help consumers make smarter decisions about substances that can harm general and reproductive health.

The brochure and web page include tips on reducing exposure to metals and synthetic chemicals in everyday life—at home, at work, and in the community—and provide links to other sources with more detailed information.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study links health risks to electromagnetic field exposure

December 13, 2017
A study of real-world exposure to non-ionizing radiation from magnetic fields in pregnant women found a significantly higher rate of miscarriage, providing new evidence regarding their potential health risks. The Kaiser Permanente ...

Searching for a link between achy joints and rainy weather in a flood of data, researchers come up dry

December 13, 2017
Rainy weather has long been blamed for achy joints. Unjustly so, according to new research from Harvard Medical School. The analysis, published Dec. 13 in BMJ, found no relationship between rainfall and joint or back pain.

Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years

December 13, 2017
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today - if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have ...

How well can digital assistants answer questions on sex?

December 13, 2017
Google laptop searches seem to be better at finding quality online sexual health advice than digital assistants on smartphones, find experts in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Healthy eating linked to kids' happiness

December 13, 2017
Healthy eating is associated with better self-esteem and fewer emotional and peer problems, such as having fewer friends or being picked on or bullied, in children regardless of body weight, according to a study published ...

Owning a pet does not seem to influence signs of aging

December 13, 2017
Owning a pet does not appear to slow the rate of ageing, as measured by standard indicators, suggest the authors of a study published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.