Diabetes from Plastic?

There has been ongoing controversy in recent years surrounding the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, a component of certain types of hard plastic containers and linings of metal cans in which food and beverages are sold. BPA has been identified as an endocrine disruptor, which means that it may mimic or amplify the effects of particular hormones in the body. The research on BPA has been mixed, but at one time or another it has been associated with heart disease, weight gain, cancer, and early onset of puberty in girls. More recently, BPA exposure during pregnancy was associated with restlessness and behavior problems in daughters later on. And now — not for the first time — a study has been released that links BPA to diabetes.

Published just over a month ago in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the study examined the urinary BPA levels and diabetes status of adult participants in a wide-ranging national health data collection conducted between 2003 and 2008. According to a Reuters article on the study, of the almost 4,000 participants, the 25% with the highest levels of BPA in their urine had a diabetes rate of about 13%, while the 25% with the lowest levels of BPA had a diabetes rate of about 8%. This means that having higher BPA levels was associated with a diabetes rate 50% higher than having lower urine levels of the chemical.

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As the study authors point out, this study does not provide conclusive evidence that BPA leads to diabetes. Even though the study controlled for traditional Type 2 diabetes risk factors among participants — including age, sex, race/ethnicity, body-mass index, and blood cholesterol levels — there may be factors unaccounted for in the study that could affect both BPA exposure and diabetes risk. For example, if certain people drink more soft drinks from cans that contain BPA, their increased sugar consumption — rather than their BPA exposure — might lead to a higher incidence of diabetes. A few animal studies have directly examined the effects of BPA exposure, but intentionally exposing humans to a potentially harmful chemical like BPA would be a breach of scientific ethics. Therefore, it is unlikely that there will ever be direct, clear evidence of harm caused by exposure to BPA.

What do you think — is the jury still out on BPA, or should the chemical be banned in food-related products? Do you avoid BPA by not using plastics with the recycling code “7” (not all of which contain BPA), or by limiting your use of metal cans? Why or why not? Do you believe BPA might have been a factor in your developing diabetes? Leave a comment below!

  • barbara Harris

    no I do not believe that . I quit smoking and gained forty pounds ,that triggered the diabeties and it’s been downhill all the way. I am finally getting my diabetes under control with weight watchers. My sugar average has dropped 50 points. this only took since 1993

  • Joanne Bechard

    I quite smoking and gained forty pounds – I also have to trace things back to ancestors – both sides of my Mothers family had diabetis – Mine is Type 2 didn’t show up until I was close to 60 – I do genealogy and I am finding on death certificates Uremia / Heart disease – My grandmother died at age 26 with diabetic ( 1912 )
    I cannot really blame plastic or metal that I know of –

  • Marcie

    There’s no doubt in my mind that BPA and other chemicals in our environment — such as organophosphates in pesticides — contributed to my development of type 2 diabetes. And, while there is yet no direct proof that BPA or several other chemicals increase the risk of developing type 2, their increased use along with the sharp rise in type 2 do co-relate.

    For the sake of my grandchildren’s health — it’s too late for my children — and for the sake of the Earth, I hope that the use of these chemicals will be banned.

  • Karen Okamoto

    I suspect that diabetes is often a combination of things, …….hereditary, ….exercise, weight, ….immune system, …and then add to it environmental factors. One may be prone to diabetes and then an environmental factor sets off an already compromised body system.

    If you look at individuals, ….perhaps everyone in a family, except for one member does not have diabetes. Yet this person is overweight just like the others. Perhaps the environmental trigger was not added to the mix and thus he did not get it.

    Just a thought. I don’t believe we can separate the environment from our hereditary systems.

  • L. Zahler

    Many “authors” continue to write about various food products and medications that may and can
    affect people with heart conditions, diabetes,
    hormonal imbalance, etc. etc.
    Obviously, and it goes without saying, that most prescription drugs will invariably affect patients no matter what health impairments they have. As we get older and health situationa progress, we all are going to run into some countereffects by whatever we take.
    What I am trying to explain here is that those who write about physical conditions and medications taken by patients should not scare people to death !!
    The whole idea here is to communicate to people that tremendous improvements have been achieved in the prevention and treatment of common conditions affecting human beings of all ages.
    Please stop TV commercials by pharmaceutical companies encouraging people to request their doctors to put them on whatever drug comes to market with the consequential disclaimers and warnings that may turn controllable conditions into fatal calamities.

  • mizz kel

    Yes, I have recently made several changes to prevent BPA exposure to myself and my family (AND my pets!). I don’t have diabetes, but several family members do and I would rather not add any more potential triggers to an already high risk of developing diabetes.
    I also avoid BPAs because of the hormonal problems associated with BPAs. I’m perimenopausal and already have enough issues with that without adding to the problem. I only wish I would’ve known of the dangers posed by this toxin years ago. I would’ve never exposed my child.
    Of course, plastics hardened with BPAs won’t disappear from the shelves at the supermarket. Too many powerful lobbyists for the plastic & petroleum industries buying our governmental representatives to result in changes.
    They’re almost as ridiculous as the tobacco industry denying the link between their product & lung cancer, etc. The evidence is there. Smart humans will take heed. Just sayin…

  • MIKE

    LOOK here now,, I drink a six pack of pepsi a day for 20 yrs, stopped drinking ALCOHOL in 1977, never over weight 5’9″ tall 163 lbs rode a motorcycle to work every day 150 miles sunshine,rain or snow.Till I retired at 55 in 2004 and 6 months later got a job driving buses for the RTA in RIVERSIDE ,CALIF.Then JANUARY 2005 DOCTORS told me I had high blood pressure 220/98 so now on pills for that 112/68 now and I had diabetes…WHAT!!!! LOSS MY DRIVING JOB CAUSE DMV SAYES YOU CAN’T TAKE INSULIN AND DRIVE COMMERCIALY ..THAT WAS IN 2008 CRAP NOW WHAT..NO ONE in my family had diabetes ever…I don’t drink soda any more or EAT sugar.on low carp diet.. this sucks… But I GOT MY DIABETES UNDER CONTROL NOW…

  • Jeff Voelker

    It would be nice to be able to blame this on something other that genes, age and other factors like the consumption of too much red meat and weight, but when you see that type II is related to many other things like thyroid disease you realize that they are all interconnected. I don’t see how plastics could have a causal effect.

  • L.Broomfield

    ABSOLUTELY!!! There is only evidence from the start of this century until the present day, that absolutely supports that any and all toxic substances are going to effect the auto-immune system via the endocrine systems of the body. The proof continues to be over whelming. Plastic inhalation as well as its absorption through the blood when first ingested by the mouth, is found to affect the endocrine system in ways that should have made it an illegal substance to in any way be allowed into the mouth. Over time we may find even more plastics are numbered in ways that allow us to avoid them. In the meantime, Do your own research and you will see what I am speaking of. Continue keeping an open mind about researching behind the research presented to you from any venue. Thanks for an opportunity to give my opinion.

  • Sal Vasi

    I was diagnosed in 1958 and I don’t think plastics with BPA had anything to do with it. I think that hereditary and environmental conditions as well as emotional factors may have been factors for me. Todays world and the products developed in the last 50 years may very well cause diabetes. But, remember that each and every one of us humans is DIFFERENT! There are trillions of minute and indescribable variances in us and Medicine has surely progressed a long way- but will never find a SINGLE END ALL ANSWER to what EXACTLY causes this disease.

  • still too fat

    No, I don’t think exposure to BPA at levels common in the US leads to anything other than unwarranted hysteria. And I don’t believe that vaccines cause autism or that fluoride in the water is a communist mind control plot either.

  • NoMoreLongQT

    I agree withKaren Okamoto down below when she said, Type II Diabetes is caused by a combination of factors.

    My husband, who has no family history of diabetes that we know of, and is not overweight, was officially diagnosed several years ago, at about age 60.

    One thing he was doing–he had these old Mizzou water cups he was using (free at a football game with a beer purchase) that he had been drinking all his water at home in, for over 25 years. When I read about the BPA, and it’s capabilities of affecting hormones, etc. I took all those cups and told him please not to drink out of them anymore. I’m not saying the cups caused anything, but I suspect they are what you call “hormone interruptors” like the experts are finding.

    I am buying more and more glass for storing left overs in the frig, and never have plastic of any kind touching my food when I warm things in a microwave–including no plastic wrap touching the food.

    They are also finding other chemicals that are believed to be hormone interruptors, including triclosan, the active ingredient in many anti-bacterial soaps, toothpastes, and even cutting boards, dish towels, and even some baby toys.

    I do think most likely environmental factors will be found to play a huge role in all of this, along with genetics and of course risk factors like being overweight, metabolic syndrome, etc.

    I don’t lay awake worrying about these kinds of things, but just try to keep up with very reliable sources for this kind of information, and then make changes in our lives accordingly.

    BTW exercise (especially anything aerobic) is extremely important for lowering blood sugar. My husband now hits the treadmill and does some weight lifting, and has his A1C from 6.8 to 6.4. The official designation by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetic Association to be considered diabetic, is an A1C of 6.5 or above. The goal for diabetics is to keep their A1C below 7.

    What most people don’t realize about diabetes & high blood pressure–they are SILENT KILLERS AND CAUSE MANY OTHER HEALTH COMPLICATIONS. YOU DO HAVE THE CHOICE OF DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. IT IS NOT A DEATH SENTENC, BUT CAN BE DEPENDING ON HOW WELL YOU CONTROL IT!!!

  • NoMoreLongQT

    I forgot to include a great web site for this kind of stuff (about BPA, safe sunscreens, safe cosmetics, & other concerns re: products etc.).

    It is: http://www.ewg.org

  • glenn mcdougald

    I am one of nine children,none of whom are diabetic except me. I am 5ft.6ins. and 138 lbs. I am not overweight. My doctors tell me the diabetes in my case was triggered by exposure to certain chemicals while serving in the military. This has also been confirmed by medical personnel with the Veterans Administration, so yes I have no doubt that certain chemicals and other things in our environment have a definite effect on our health and on the development of diabetes.

  • AllieTheCat

    Bert Goldman had the key to health and happiness. It’s called moderation in two words – EAT LESS!!!

    Notice it says nothing about what to eat – eat anything just EAT LESS.

    But you can help it along better by eating things that are not processed.

  • FLB4

    Yes, I do believe BPA’s play a role in adult Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. I worked in the Plastics Industry for 20 Years. I was exposed to high levels of plastic fumes from the melting polycarbonates. And had seen others contract Diabetes as well in the industry. These people I spoke with exercised and ate right. But began to exhibit obesity and diabetic signs. I myself have severe Type 2 Diabetes and high insulin resistance, requiring high doses of insulin. As well as obesity. I have always maintained a good diet and very active in sports. There are however, always other factors such as genetic makeup, seditary lifestyle, incorrect diet. But I do believe that with scientific studies performed that show BPA’s effect on endocrine and hormone levels in humans. Affecting the pancrease and triggering the release of almost double the insulin actually needed to break down food. And in my opinion is an endocrine disruptor.