(NaturalNews) Childhood exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is associated with changes in the body that predispose people to heart and kidney disease later in life, according to a study conducted by researchers from New York University and published in the journal Kidney International.
The findings follow a study by the same research team, published in September in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which showed that children and adolescents with higher levels of BPA in their urine were significantly more likely to be obese.
"While our cross-sectional study cannot definitively confirm that BPA contributes to heart disease or kidney dysfunction in children, together with our previous study of BPA and obesity, this new data adds to already existing concerns about BPA as a contributor to cardiovascular risk in children and adolescents," co-lead author Leonardo Trasande said.
"It further supports the call to limit exposure of BPA in this country, especially in children."
BPA, a chemical widely used in plastics, in the linings of food and beverage cans, and in a wide variety of other applications from compact discs to the thermal paper used for receipts, has been implicated as an endocrine disruptor linked with changes to the human metabolic, nervous and reproductive systems. Its use in baby bottles and sippy cups has been banned in Canada and the European Union, which has caused it to be largely phased out of those products in the Western world.
Yet exposure to the chemical is still widespread, and 92 percent of U.S. children already have traces of BPA in their urine by age six.
"Removing it from aluminum cans is probably one of the best ways we can limit exposure," Trasande said. "There are alternatives that manufacturers can use to line aluminum cans."
Protein in the urine
The researchers analyzed data on 710 US residents between the ages of six and 19 who had participated in the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The researchers compared the BPA levels in urine with those of a protein called albumin.
In healthy people, the kidney's glomerular membrane prevents protein molecules from entering the urine. When this membrane is damaged, however, albumin may enter the urine.
Even after controlling for other risk factors including age, gender, weight, race and ethnicity, caregiver education, poverty to income ratio, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and exposure to tobacco smoke, the researchers found that higher levels of BPA were significantly associated with a higher albumin to creatinine ratio - an early marker associated with an elevated risk of kidney damage and heart disease. Notably, the BPA levels observed in the study were actually relatively low.
Trasande noted that while the study excluded children who already had kidney disease, it is likely that such children would be even more vulnerable to the effects of BPA.
"Because their kidneys are already working harder to compensate and have limited functional reserve, they may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of environmental toxins," he said.