Is BPA a Risk Factor For IBD?
If you have irritable bowel disease, you might want to think twice about the packaging many of today’s foods and beverages come in. You’ve probably heard of BPA (Bisphenol A). It’s a hormone disrupting chemical that is often used in the manufacturing of plastic wraps, plastic bottles and other plastic containers. It’s also found in sports bottles, checkout counter receipts and is used to coat the insides of metal food cans.
For many years BPA has been under fire as an endocrine disruptor that interferes with our hormones and reproductive systems. There is also evidence that BPA may contribute to hormone-related cancers, such as breast, prostate and ovarian cancer. Now, groundbreaking new research suggests BPA may also be a leading factor in irritable bowel disease.
Exposure to BPA Worsens Inflammation and IBD Symptoms
Irritable bowel disease, or IBD, is characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract that leads to severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease fall under the IBD umbrella.
According to Dr. Clint Allred, the lead author of the new study, the causes of IBD have not yet been determined. “Environmental exposures such as diet, smoking, infections, altered gut microbiome and toxins or pollutants are risk-factors for development and relapse,” Allred said.
“One such risk factor, the hormone estrogen, has been linked with an increased risk of IBD,” Allred notes. “And BPA can act as an estrogen. Furthermore, BPA has been previously shown to alter gut microbes similarly to the way the gut microbiota is altered in IBD patients.” For the purposes of the study, Allred and his team induced inflammation of the colon in mice. Then, they analyzed the effect that exposure to BPA had on both inflammation levels and changes in the gut microbiome.
Exposure to BPA for 15 days…
- Increased the levels of several compounds that drive inflammation in the colon.
- Reduced levels of tryptophan and several metabolites associated with decreased inflammation in the colon.
- Worsened disease symptoms and increased mortality when compared to untreated groups.
First author Jennifer DeLuca notes that this is the first study to show that BPA can negatively impact gut microbial amino acid metabolism in a way that has been associated with irritable bowel disease.
Avoiding BPA in the Modern World
In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to avoid BPA. But you can take measures to reduce your exposure and lower the impact BPA may have on your gut and colon.
- Avoid purchasing foods and beverages that come in plastic containers whenever you can.
- Skip the canned fruits and vegetables, as the liners may be tainted with BPA. We always recommend opting for fresh produce. But if storage life is an issue, frozen is your next best bet.
- Trade in your plastic pitchers, sports bottles and storage containers for those that are glass or stainless steel.
- If you insist on purchasing plastic sports bottles, plastic containers and other storage items, look for those that are labeled “BPA-Free”.
Rubin BS. Bisphenol A: an endocrine disruptor with widespread exposure and multiple effects. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Oct;127(1-2):27-34.
Gao H, et al. Bisphenol A and Hormone-Associated Cancers: Current Progress and Perspectives. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Jan; 94(1): e211.
BPA risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease. News Release. Texas A&M AgriLife. July 2018.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”