BPA (Bisphenol A) and other estrogenic compounds hamper development of the stem cells responsible for producing sperm in mice, which suggests such exposure could contribute to declining sperm counts in men, according to a new study.
The study, published online today in PLoS Genetics, is the first to suggest that low, brief exposures to bisphenol-A, or other estrogens such as those used in birth control but found as water contaminants, early in life can alter the stem cells responsible for producing sperm later in life.
Exposure to estrogens “is not simply affecting sperm being produced now, but impacting the stem cell population, and that will affect sperm produced throughout the lifetime,” said Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University who led the study.
BPA is a ubiquitous chemical found in most people and used to make polycarbonate plastic and found in some food cans and paper receipts. People also are exposed to synthetic estrogens used in birth control as they are commonly found contaminating water, even after treatment.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA from baby bottles in 2012 but maintains that BPA currently used in food containers and packaging is safe. And this week the European Food Safety Authority announced in a new assessment there is “no consumer health risk from bisphenol-A exposure.