These days more and more people seem to be intolerant of, or allergic to, a variety of food types than ever, and there may just be a good reason why this is so. Results of a new study, which was published in the The FASEB Journal (November 2014), show that exposure to low doses of Bisphenol A (BPA) in the perinatal stages of development is linked with an increased risk of developing food intolerance in adulthood. The study, which was conducted on rats, proposes that exposure to BPA at doses significantly lower than current human safety levels set by the FDA during the months shortly prior to, and after birth can affect the developing immune system, predisposing offspring to food intolerance later in life.
"Food contributes over 80 percent of the population's exposure to BPA," said lead author, Sandrine Menard, from the Department of Neuro-Gastroenterology and Nutrition at INRA in Toulouse, France. "On the basis of the susceptibility to food intolerance after perinatal exposure to BPA, these new scientific data may help decisions by public health authorities on the need of a significant reduction in the level of exposure to BPA in pregnant and breastfeeding women, to limit the risk for their children of adverse food reactions later in life."
For the study, the researchers assessed two groups of pregnant rats. Rats in group one were fed BPA orally daily (at a dosage of 5 µg/kg of body weight/day) from the fifteenth day of gestation until the young rats were weaned twenty-one days after birth. Rats in the control group were fed daily from the BPA administering vehicle, but no BPA was added to their diet. After being weaned, the offspring from both groups were left untouched until they reached adulthood at 45 days old, at which point females offspring from both groups were assessed for food intolerance.
When the rats were fed a new protein food (ovalbumin), rats that were exposed to BPA during perinatal stages exhibited an exacerbated immune response to ovalbumin, while rats in the control group did not. Furthermore, when rats that were exposed to BPA were fed ovalbumin repeatedly, they suffered inflammation of the colon, a symptom of food intolerance, which was not evident in rats from the control group.
For Food Intolerance, Prevention is Better than Cure
This research strongly supports a rationale for managing immune disorders such as food intolerance through prevention rather than therapy. It is hoped that the study may assist public health officials recognize the range of impacts that BPA exposure has on the immune system, including the effect of exposure at low doses, and during critical stages of development, particularly the impact on fetal developmental stages, and on pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding their young.
"We may look back one day and see BPA exposure as one of the more important public health problems of our time," said Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "We know that too much exposure is bad, but exactly how much exposure is too much is still up for debate."
BPA can be found in a range of everyday products, notably plastic containers commonly used to package food and drinks (including baby bottles and water bottles), and in epoxy resins used as metal coatings in bottle tops, food cans, and even municipal water pipes that supply our homes with drinking water. BPA has even been found in breast-milk. Consumers can be exposed to BPA when it leaches into the contents of the bottle or can that it is incorporated in, or into the water passing through pipes.
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Sandrine Menard, Laurence Guzylack-Piriou, Mathilde Leveque, Viorica Braniste, Corinne Lencina, Manon Naturel, Lara Moussa, Soraya Sekkal, Cherryl Harkat, Eric Gaultier, Vassilia Theodorou, and Eric Houdeau. Food intolerance at adulthood after perinatal exposure to the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A. FASEB J. November 2014 28:4893-4900; doi:10.1096/fj.14-255380 ; http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/11/4893.abstract