Women with the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be more vulnerable to exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), found in many plastic household items, say Greek researchers. The findings were presented at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting.
Researcher Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, from the University of Athens Medical School, explained that BPA, a known hormone disrupter, is elevated and associated with higher levels of male hormones in the blood of women with PCOS compared with healthy women. Excessive secretion of androgens - masculine hormones - occurs in PCOS.
"Women with the polycystic ovary syndrome should be alert regarding this environmental contaminant's potential adverse effects on reproductive aspects of their health problem," she warned.
Previous studies show that BPA is elevated in women who have had recurrent miscarriages. This chemical can leach into the bloodstream from food and beverage containers that are made of polycarbonate hard plastic or lined with epoxy resins, or from some dental sealants and composites.
In the new study, blood levels of BPA, compared with those of controls, were nearly 60 percent higher in lean women with PCOS and more than 30 percent higher in obese women with the syndrome. Additionally, as the BPA blood level increased, so did the concentrations of the male sex hormone testosterone and androstenedione, a steroid hormone that converts to testosterone.
Although BPA is a weak estrogen, excessive secretion of androgens, as seen in PCOS, interfere with BPA detoxification by the liver, leading to accumulation of blood levels of BPA, Diamanti-Kandarakis explained. "BPA also affects androgen metabolism, creating a vicious circle between androgens and BPA," she said, adding that women with PCOS may want to limit their exposure to BPA.
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Source: The Endocrine Society