As human fertility continues to decline at alarming rates around the world, scientists have been trying to pinpoint the cause. A new study may provide the illusive reason why so many are experiencing damaged fertility.
Scientists from Harvard claim they have discovered the "mechanism by which the chemical compound Bisphenol A, commonly used in the plastics industry, damages human eggs and can harm female fertility."
Due to Bisphenol A's (BPA) negative reproductive effects on animals, the scientists decided to test whether human eggs would also be damaged when exposed to BPA.
The results of the Harvard study supported by the National Institutes of Health in the United States and by the Environmental Health Fund in Israel were conclusive.
The results showed that after 30 hours of exposure to Bisphenol A, a greater number of eggs did not mature or began to degenerate. Examination of the chromosomes in the egg showed damage that made proper maturation impossible.
In the group of eggs that were exposed to 20 nanograms per milliliter of Bisphenol A, which is 10 times the average concentration revealed by urine tests of healthy subjects, the rate of eggs that matured and could be used for fertilization was 52 percent, compared to 59 percent in the control group.
In another group of eggs, which were exposed to a quantity of Bisphenol A 100 times the norm, usable eggs declined to 42 percent. When the concentration of the substance was 10,000 times the norm, only 19 percent of the eggs matured. (Source)
“The assumption is that the granulosa cells that surround the egg already contain a basic minuscule amount of Bisphenol A, and we found that continued exposure to concentrations of the substance can harm the supply of eggs and the process of their maturation and female fertility,” said Dr. Ronit Machtinger, a gynecologist who headed the study.
“At present the significance of the findings is that long-term exposure to Bisphenol A, even in a low concentration, has possible effects on fertility and should be avoided, for example, by not heating up food in plastic containers in the microwave,” she recommended.
However, Bisphenol A is not just found in plastics. Significant amounts of BPA can be found in canned goods like soups, tomatoes and soft drinks. It is also found in white dental fillings and nearly all paper receipts that can transferred by touch.
This is not the first study to show that Bisphenol A harms human fertility. In September 2011, a study published in the Journal of Human Reproduction showed that women with high concentrations of BPA trying to conceive children through in vitro fertilization had 24% fewer eggs than women with less BPA present.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is fully aware of the damaging effects of BPA, but to date has only banned baby bottles and sippy cups containing the chemical.
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