Bisphenol-A (BPA) -- the endocrine-disrupting chemical found in some linings of food cans and plastics, which has been linked in animal studies to cancer and fetal development problems -- is associated with narrowed arteries, a new study suggests.
The chemical has already been banned from baby bottles and kids' sippy cups. The FDA raised questions about its risks in 2010, even though it was deemed "safe" in 2008, the New York Times reported. (For the official concerns the FDA has about BPA, click here.)
The new PLoS ONE study, conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and University of Exeter, examined the association between severe coronary artery stenosis (the condition name for narrowed arteries) and BPA levels in the urine.
Researchers examined the urinary BPA levels and artery narrowing of 591 people who participated in the Metabonomics and Genomics Coronary Artery Disease in the United Kingdom. They found that 385 of the study participants had severe artery narrowing, 86 had "intermediate" artery narrowing and 120 didn't have narrowed coronary arteries.
The researchers found an association between higher urinary BPA levels and increased risk for severe narrowing of the arteries.
According to the Texas Heart Institute, the more stenosis an artery has, the more blood flow becomes blocked. This can lead to symptoms of chest pain and tightness, and if it becomes bad enough, can lead to a heart attack, the Mayo Clinic reported.
"Our latest study strengthens a growing body of work that suggests that BPA may be adding to known risk factors for heart disease," study researcher David Melzer, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, said in a statement. "Full proof will be very difficult to get, as experiments on this in humans are not feasible."
This is certainly not the first time an association has been shown between urinary BPA levels and heart risks. The same team has conducted three past studies on the link, the most recent being one published earlier this year in the journal Circulation, showing that heart disease risk may be increased in people with higher BPA exposure, Reuters reported.
However, the researchers told Reuters at the time that even if BPA is definitively shown to play a role in heart risks, other factors such as smoking and being obese still play an important role.Another study in the journal PLoS ONE also showed a potential link between BPA and diabetes, at least in animals. HuffPost Green's Lynne Peeples reported that Spanish researchers found that BPA spurred mice's bodies to release almost twice as much insulin as they actually needed to. In humans, excess release of insulin is linked with Type 2 diabetes.