(NaturalNews) Big Pharma bombards consumers with ads for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), the politically correct term for what used to be known as "impotence". Erectile dysfunction, the repeated inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse, is a problem affecting between 15 million to 30 million American men, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). But why?
While many people assume ED is an inevitable part of growing older or something men experience for no particular reason, a just released study raises another disturbing possibility. It turns out the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) can reduce sexual function in men.
The Kaiser Permanente research, published in the journal Human Reproduction, followed 230 Chinese men who were exposed to BPA in their workplace for five years and compared them to 404 others who worked in a factory where no BPA was present. The results were dramatic. The men working in facilities where they were exposed to BPA had four times the risk of erectile dysfunction and seven times more risk of difficulties with ejaculation than their counterparts who weren't regularly exposed to BPA. The BPA-exposed men had also had dramatically lowered sexual desire and overall less satisfaction with their sex life than men without the chemical exposure.
While it's true the BPA levels experienced by the exposed factory workers in the study were 50 times higher than levels of the chemical the average American man is believed to be exposed to, the bottom line is this: Americans -- male and female, young and old -- are being exposed to BPA regularly. The chemical is used in an enormous amount of products including many plastic containers, baby bottles, the lining of cans used for food and beverages, and even dental sealants. And no one knows for sure what effects the chemical could be having on the human body, including the reproductive system.
A host of animal studies already have demonstrated that BPA has a negative impact on the male reproductive system in mice and rats. In a statement to the media, the Kaiser Permanente scientists explained that BPA is suspected of being a human endocrine disrupter that likely is detrimental to both male and female reproductive systems. Funded by the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the new study is the first research study to look at the effect of BPA on the male reproductive system in humans.
"Because the BPA levels in this study were very high, more research needs to be done to see how low a level of BPA exposure may have effects on our reproductive system. This study raises the question: Is there a safe level for BPA exposure, and what is that level? More studies like this, which examine the effect of BPA on humans, are critically needed to help establish prevention strategies and regulatory policies," said the study's lead author De-Kun Li, MD, Ph.D., in a media statement.
Dr. Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, California, also pointed out other disturbing implications of the new study -- BPA may have health effects that go far beyond male sexual problems like ED. In fact, male sexual problems could prove to be early indicators of BPA-related effects on the body that are more difficult to study, such as cancer or metabolic diseases.
Reference: "Occupational exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) and the risk of self-reported male sexual dysfunction,"Human Reproduction,doi:10.1093/humrep/dep381.